Semaphore and new Electrocode case with mast.
Signals and 
Signal Maintenance on the 
 Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad 

 Part 1: Up To August 19, 1999 
 Hugo to Glendale Semaphore Replacement Project:
The Cases, Rail and Wire

In June, 1999, Railtex granted the Central Oregon and Pacific the funding and authority to replace five sets of semaphore signals between Hugo and Glendale, Oregon with Electrocode controlled three-color signal lights.  This 20 mile section of railroad is in a remote section of the Siskiyou Mountains, largely inaccessible by vehicle and includes two tunnels.  Maintaining the pole line in this territory is challenging enough, but the railroad wanted to log trees along its right of way.  Of course the wires and poles would most likely become victims of falling trees and heavy logging equipment.   By converting the signaling along this stretch to Electrocode, the pole lines can be completely removed since the new signals communicate between themselves with pulses of electricity through the rails instead of through wires strung between poles.  The only overhead wiring needed would be 110v service to each of the cases that house the Electrocode equipment and support the color light signals.
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Click on thumbnails for larger images

Connecting 110V power to Elecocode Signal Case.
Tuesday, August 17, 1999

The first step in an Electrocode installation is setting the steel 4' x 4' x 4' foundation for the case.  Next the case (large silvery object in this picture) is mounted on the foundation.  Then, the power company connects 110V electric service at a nearby meter.  Here Rick Perry (right) and Tom Hunt prepare to connect the case to the commercial power supply. 

Connecting the batteries in an Electrocode case. With power connected to the case, Rick goes to work connecting the batteries to the charger.  The batteries (barely visible on the floor) are charged as long as there is 110v current but take over to power the circuitry and lights in a power failure.  That's the battery charger to the right of Rick's helmet.  The Electrocode boards are in the oblong rack above the charger.

Note the steel legs and platform under the case.  Those legs go 4' into the ground.

Semaphores at MP 505.5; Tunnel 8 in background This pair of semaphores have only days left in their life on the Siskiyou Line.  Rick and his hi-rail pose between them with the south portal of Tunnel 8 in the background.  These blades are in one of the most inaccessible (and beautiful) sections of CORP's line and there is no power nearby to supply an electrocode installation.  Therefore the new signals will be further south of this location. 
Note:  Matt Robbins of Northwest Rails hiked down to this location photograph the passing of Amtrak's Talgo.
Rail Drilling for Insulated Joint In any location where a new Electrocode does not replace a semaphore, gaps in the rails must be cut and fitted with insulated joints.  Here a drilling machine is boring holes in the rail for the bolts that will hold the joint bars. The blue bars in the lower left corner are the insulators.  Prior to this drilling operation, the rail had been cut with an abrasive disk attached to a chain saw motor.
Bond wire welding setup This is the newly completed insulated joint.  The blue bars and light gray spacer barely visible between the clamps prevent electricity from passing between the rails.  However, since this insulated joint will prevent the existing semaphores from showing a clear indication, a bond wire must be attached between the two rails until the Electrocode installations are cut over.  Signal Maintainer Tim Marshall has set the stranded copper bond wire  between the clamps.
Thermite reaction welds bond wire. A small thermite charge is place in cups in each clamp and, as shown here, lit off.  In two seconds this flashy little reaction has produced a button of liquid metal which flows through the bottom of the clamp and welds the bond wire to the rail. Once the Electrocode installations are cut in this bond wire will be cut.  Any unneeded insulated joints at old semaphore sites will then be bonded like this joint has been.  Incidentally, this bonding process must be used at each rail joint where electrical continuity must be maintained. 
Tri Color Signals on Semaphore masts. Not all signals between Hugo and Glendale are semaphores.  These Tri Color lights were installed on Semaphore bases with shortened masts by the Southern Pacific in the early 90's.  These particular signals will come out when the Electrocodes are fired up, but the heads will be used elsewhere on the system.
Semaphores, new Electrocode case, Hi Rail truck Rick and Tom have arrived in their hi-rails to dig in the track wires for the new installation at the north end of the Hugo siding.  The masts and signal heads will soon be mounted on the Electrocode case and these blades will become history.
Installing Track Wires New wires must be run between the new E-code cases and the rails.  These four wires (one to each side of the insulated joint for each rail) are laid in trenches and spliced to the wires going into the case in white PVC pipes sticking out of the ground.  Here Rick is stuffing the splices into the case.  The wires to the rail run off to the left of his foot. 
August 19
Work continuted on the installation with the final case pictured above receiving 110V wiring.  Every thing is ready for the masts to be installed tomorrow,  Friday.
Part 2
Pictures of mounting the masts continue in Part 2.

All photos and descriptions Copyright 1999 by Larry Tuttle

Special Thanks to Rick Perry, Rich Gollen, Tom Hunt, Tim Marshall and the Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad

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This consist built on August 17, 1999
And last switched on December 3, 2000