Well last week you saw the report about my trip to Georgia, well I didn't just sit around there eating pork and burning crosses because because there were horses about, both iron and the meat kind. My friend lives in Athens, GA, home of a certain football related University and through Athens runs the CSX Abbeville Sub, part of the old Seaboard Air Line freight route between Atlanta Georgia and the pot of Wilmington, NC. Despite being mostly single track the line is about 550 miles long and supports double stack operations. It sees about 10-20 trains a day and a good number of them run in the daytime.
In this trip I had two real opportunities to railfan. The first was when I went with my friend to visit the stable where she rides and performs various kinds of manual labour. The Abbeville sub runs right behind the barn and not only that the MP 511 automatic signal is located there as well. The other outing was a visit to the north end of the Fowler Junction siding in downtown Athens where where is an interlocking with some classic Seaboard signals.
You can view the entire set of photos here and this time I left in some of the non-railfan pics of the various non-Iron horses at the barn and the Anna Rudy Falls in the northern part of the state.
We will begin with the MP511 automatic (5110 eastbound, 5111 westbound). The signal is unfortunately a Darth Vader style mast and not an SAL style "elephant ear", but fortunately this was just a one off replacement and not part of some larger re-signaling effort. The signal is approach lit so that means you have a visual confirmation of an approaching train as soon as one enters the block on either side. Here the 5110 signal is displaying a Clear indication for an approaching train. Note how the new mast has been stuck onto the old base.
A few seconds later a double stack intermodal train lead by CSX C40-8 #7500 rolled through.
End of the double stack intermodal train in the previous photo.
Clear indication displayed on the 5111 signal for an approaching westbound train.
Which turned out to be a manifest freight led by ES44DC #5465. note the opposite direction signals will not illuminate until that block is occupied.
Tail end hi-cube box car on the manifest freight.
The sun was cooperating when CSX SD60 #8718 rolled through with another westbound manifest freight.
So now we can get to the reason of why this signal was replaced. Here we see the eastbound signal displaying the CSX version of Advance Approach, Y/Y. First of all I would again like to express my distaste for Y/Y advance approach. While very popular back in the day with railroads such as the New York Central, Y/Y was discarded by NORAC for *Y* to leave the Y/Y slot open for Approach Slow, as per PRR practice. This allows all the automatic aspects to be displayed on 2 heads. Under the old Seaboard system Approach Slow is kicked down to the three headed aspect Y/R/G.
Anyway, this signal was previously the distant to the interlocking at the south end of the Fowler Junction siding. As that siding is non-bonded this signal would not need a second head for diverging routes. However sometime aafter 2008 a new interlocking was installed 1800 feet south of SE FOWLER JCT to allow trains easier access to the Pilgrim's Pride facility in Athens. This created a very short signal block and the MP 511 automatic needed an upgrade to display Advance Approach when SE Fowler Jct was at Stop. So here we have it, instead of being able to just install a flasher relay CSX had to completely replace the entire signal mast to get the second head to display Y/Y as shown here. Not sure why it was displaying that, but it soon turned clear before the eastbound train arrived.
The equipment cases at the auto had not been replaced although the pole line connection had been cut
so I was not sure what was powering them now. The backup batteries are
in the small case in the foreground. Track circuits used audio
frequencies to transmit block state and they could be heard as a high
pitched whine coming from the cabinet.
Now to make this post acceptable to both genders here is a brief interlude to show some pictures of the other kind of horse. Um, the kind that poops. Here we have Noble who is, um, not an SD60. You can see the proximity to the railroad tracks in the background.
Gere is Tux who is a paint and insisted on invading my personal space when he wasn't busy vacuuming up grass.
Here are the two ponies, Toulouse (left) and Stirling (right). Stirling is qualified to pull a small cart.
Oh dear, it looks like Stirling has been tagged by vandals with hair clippers.
Looks like this poor fellow has his paint job maintain by our good friends at CSX.
Alright, that's enough for the ladies, back to railroads. Now we move
to my other stop on this trip, the NE FOWLER JCT interlocking which as
the name implies is at the North End of the Fowler Junction siding in
downtown Athens. The siding connects to the Athens yard which mostly
deals in agricultural goods and bulk products in hopper cars. The
junction in Fowler Junction is from a secondary track that runs from
between here and Gainesville. I believe its an NS line that CSX is
either leasing or has trackage rights to. Here we see the eastbound mast
signals, the main track is on the right and the yard lead/siding track
on the left.
The mast signal off the controlled siding has until recently been equipped with a vestigial third signal head,
but that was removed shortly before I arrived to document things and i
found it laying in the grass. These elephant ear signals were very
popular back in the day and made use of the US&S model N color light
signals in 1, 2 and 3 lamp varieties. They were replaced in the
catalogue by aluminum modular types.
Luck was with me that day as a train showed up while I was doing my signal thing at the interlocking. The light was excellent as well. Here CSX AC44 #542 rolls westbound through the junction.
Closeup of the eastbound main mast elephant ear signal head. This one
has seen a new coat of paint sometime in the last decade. Some
prankster has put a dolls head onto one of the ladder rungs. It is
worth noting that these signals are not approach lit and will not
provide warning of approaching trains. Also notice there is no lunar
white lamp to display a restricting/call-on indication. If the next
block is occupied, which is very well might be due to some siding
tracks, trains cannot close in on them without having to get permission
past a stop signal from the dispatcher.
Same mast signal as the train goes by. If you look to the right you can see some of the kudzu that covered the large empty field next to the tracks.
The Wabco branded relay hut probably dates back to whenever the line was
upgraded to CTC in the 1970's or 80's. Prior to that this siding
probably would have been hand worked with the line operating under some
sort of non-CTC bidirectional signaling (Rule 271). Recently CSX
implemented a pole line elimination project that replaced pole mounted
code and power lines with ATCS data radios and utility provided power.
The cables running up the telephone pole to the right run to the antenna
for the ATCS data radio which works to relay dispatcher commands and
line state through the much less expensive to maintain wireless
spectrum. note the empty wine bottle and coke can on the battery box.
More fallout from that new Pilgrim's Pride interlocking is
visible at Fowler Jct as the westbound mast has been replaced with a
new Darth Vader signal. Reason is the same as it was at the MP 511
auto. Because of the very short signal block between Pilgrim's Price
and SE FOWLER JCT the second signals on either side of that short signal
block needed to display Advance Approach so in goes a completely new
I should also mention a little something about
CSX siding terminology. There are basically three kinds of sidings,
sidings, controlled sidings and signaled sidings. A regular siding has
no interlocked entrance and exit and not signaling. A controlled siding
has interlocked entrances and exits, but no signaling within it. A
signaled has both interlockings and track circuit blocks. The Fowler
Junction siding in a controlled siding with interlockings at each end,
but no train detection so all trains receive a Restricting indication
when entering the siding. If you look closely
you can see the lamps color installed on this new mast. On the upper
head we have our standard G/Y/G for main track indications. On the
lower head we have Y/L/R where the yellow is for the new advance
approach indication and the lunar is for routes into the siding.
To avoid ending on a Darth Vader signal I will insert a nice relaxing photos of Anna Ruby falls.
Well, maybe the South isn't so bad after all. I mean it seems to have a lot of non-threatening natural beauty.
AHHH RUN!! Who the heck chooses to live in this place!!!
Next week tune in for an Amtrak Harrisburg Line survey...eastbound this time!!