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Discussion Starter #1
When driving around full size railroads, I notice a lot of little signs beside the track, obviously meant for the train crews. Mostly, they just have one letter on them, I seem to remember seeing "M" or "W".

What are they called. "Markers", maybe?

What do they mean? If I wanted to add some to my railroad, where would I put them and what letters do I put on them?

I am just guessing, but, I think they might tell the engineer to restrict their speed or to blow a crossing signal. Anyone Know which ones are which or can give a few examples?

I'd like to add some to the ALLY, but, I'd like to tell visiting operators what they are for and what they need to do when their train passes one.
 

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"W" is a whistle post. It tells the engineman that there is a short distance to the next grade crossing, and marks where to start ringing the bell, and, depending on the railroad, where to start the 14 (L) whistle signal ( --- --- O --- ) commonly associated with railroad crossings. (Some railroads put the whistle post close enough that one signal will do, some use a short 14 (L) at the post and a longer one at the road; it depends on whether the posts are laid out at a specific distance or based on train speed.

"M" or more commonly 'WMX" or "MX" indicates "Multiple" crossings; in other words, there are grade crossings following the post that are close enough together so as not to have their own whistleposts, and the engineman needs to keep blowing the 14 (L) over and over again until all the crossings are passed. Often there's a number on the post that says how many crossings are involved.

You may also see a post with an "R" on it .... in this case, the bell rings, but the whistle is NOT blown, otherwise the post works the same way.

In the south, the former Southern railway territory (among others) often has a post with two stripes, a dot and another stripe as read vertically from the top .... describing it this way shows immediately that it's the same thing, outlining the 14(L) signal graphically.

Also near grade crossings, you may see smaller posts with "CC," "P," "X," SW," or "--" ... all of these indicate the end of the crossing activation circuit. Depending on how the crossing is set up, the crew needs to remember first not to park any equpment closer to the crossing than the marker, and second will know from the marking how to operate the crossing manually if they're doing switching moves that require using the crossing, or approaching it. (Some work on push buttons, some on timers, etc. I can post the whole rule if you like.)

You may also see mileposts, which typically have a number and often a couple of letters.... this shows miles from a particular location.... but I suspect you know about those.

Matthew (OV)
 

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Other stuff you might see....

Many railroads use a "permanent speed sign" ... typically black numbers on a yellow background.... to indicate a permanent speed restriction, on a curve or whatever. There's generally a similar sign on it with an "R" to resume speed after the restrition is over.

Work crews (fmr Conrail, at least) will use a black "A" on a yellow background for "Approach" to a work area, with a "STOP" sign at the work area itself. Trains must slow to restricted speed at the "A post" and then STOP at the stop sign.... unless told to proceed by yellow flag or radio "Form D" ... at the far end of the work area (and usually corresponding to the "STOP" post for the opposite direction) is a green "R" post for "Resume" ....

OLD rule books have these signs reading "Approach Rule 45" and "STOP Rule 45" ... their use being outlined by... well, Rule 45.

There's a signal that has a post about 6' high with a diagonal blade on it, usually about 4" wide and flat, and squared off at the end.... this device tells the operator of a flanger to lift the blade because he's approaching a crossing, switch, or other obstruction in the gauge of the track that would either be damaged, damage the flanger, or both. You probably don't have too many of those where you are!

A sign with two numbers, one above the other, is generally a speed sign, and indicates passenger speed on top, and freight on the bottom.

"STOP" with black letters on white means just that, and generally marks a road crossing that must be flagged by a flagman before crossing. Also found at manually operated drawbridges, and other places where stopping anything coming along is a really good idea.

"PG" means a phase gap ... it's for trains running on overhead catenary.

"G" on a signal mast means "Grade" .... trains encountering the "double red" don't have to actually stop (some railroads this only applies to really heavy trains) but have to slow to restricted speed, so that if they find something they can stop at once..... it keeps uphill trains from running entirely out of momentum and then having to start on the hill, or worse yet, back down and start over.

There are some others, I would guess... but that'll get you started!

Matthew (OV)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Are there also letters to indicate yard limits, tunnels, speed restriction, end of speed restrictions, weight limits or other things?

The was a good article in the last LGB club mail-out about plain white posts with a red top that marked where the end of a car should be positioned to clear a turnout.


I'd like too model a lot of these signs, markers, and posts, but I'd also like to know the proper names and uses for them too.

Did they sometimes just paint a tie to indicate something?

B0B
 

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Did they sometimes just paint a tie to indicate something?
B0B


On NS, the tops of the ties, outside the rails (on the main line) are painted white to indicate that there is water under the tracks, usually in the form of a bridge, culvert, etc. Very handy for finding the bottom of a grade.

Also, the sides of the rails are frequently painted yellow, about a foot long or so, to indicate the clear point of a track, to prevent fouling a switch. In places with yard air available for brake testing, the marks are frequently located at the air hose & valve. Blue marks are used to indicate the loacation of a permanently mounted blue flag in a track - if there is one, and if it is not at the same point as the air plug and clear point.

As far as signs go, there seems to be quite a bit of variation, depending on what railroad you model. We have very few with any sort of writing on them. The occasional "W" whistle post (I prefer the older milk botle signs, myself) and slow curve signs (with a simple "45" or whatever the speed restriction may be) are about all I can think of off the top of my head. Of course, there are mile posts, but I'm assuming most people are familiar with those already.
 

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Permanent speed signs are generally a yellow background with black numbers. At the end of the restriction there's a green "R" on a white background (or the other way around, depending on railroad) for "Resume." Yard Limits have everything from really fancy "Y" shaped signs (old) to a piece of sheet metal with the words scrawled on them, and everything in between depending on history and budget! For years, the VRR's yard limits were two bridges, with no sign of any kind, it was just listed in the employee's timetable.

Weight limits on bridges are generally done by Employee's Timetable or bulletin order .... unlike a truck, you don't change your route on the fly, and you really kind of need to know before you leave what you've got.

I've seen Ken's painted rail pieces to indicate fouling points on sidings, and signposts to indicate derails (in High Point, right behind the Thomas bus plant, there's a DOT "Stop" sign to which the word "Dismount" has been added (their word down here for a derail)

The MBTA uses placards with numbers on them to indicate station stops ... if you have a five car train, and stop the engine next to the "5" your train is spotted correctly for the low and high platforms.

There's a temporary "APPROACH RULE 45" and "STOP RULE 45" used when approaching a work area ... trains passing the first post treat it like an approach signal, and slow prepared to stop at the "Stop" sign.... unless given permission to proceed by "Form D" or a man with a yellow flag. The far end of the work area has an "R" sign for "Resume," generally green on white (or white on green, depending.) When I worked for Conrail in 1987, these had been shortened to a black on yellow "A" for the approach, and a white on red "STOP"

Oh, and CSX on the Boston and Albany division is using a yellow reflective triangle on a post instead of the flanger signal as described above, presumably it means the same thing.

Some railroads had small metal signs mounted on recycled boiler tubes to indicate bridge names and mile number.

Tunnels are generally an Employee's Timetable thing, though I've heard some places actually put up a lunar white signal to avoid suprises at night.

Matthew (OV)
 
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