Jump to content

Cofga

Horn and whistle signals

Recommended Posts

Here in the US railroads nationwide have long used a well defined set of whistle and/or horn signals. For example 2 long indicated a train or loco was about to move forward and 3 short meant a reverse move, etc. I have been looking for a similar set of signals for UPK steam whistles and early diesel locos for the low and hi horns but can’t seem to find much. Videos provide evidence of the guard whistle being blown when the train was ready to leave and that was followed by a single whistle blast from the engineer, but other than that I am mystified.  Since all my steam locos and my GWR Flying Banana have DCC sound I’d like to use them prototypically. Thanks for any guidelines—Larry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whistle codes (for LMS lines) are given in the Sectional Appendix, not sure for GWR lines.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One I do remember from teenage years, when our local 'short line' was dieselised (1965 or thereabouts) was a continuous tone on the horn of one of our EE Type 3s, indicating that the loaded coal train had  overpowered the brakes on the locomotive, and was now a runaway. Coal trains of the time did not generally have continuous brakes, and relied on the loco brakes, and those on the guard's van (caboose) at the rear.  It was a very haunting sound.

Otherwise, UK main line trains sounded their whistles/horns at locations indicated by a 'SW' (sound whistle) or 'Whistle' sign at the trackside, or where people had been seen on, or near, the tracks (UK railways were routinely fenced from the beginning)

The only places I've heard of 'codes' being used are places like docks, where there could be many train movements, so drivers used the whistle (and later, horn) to advise the signaller where they were, and whether they needed a route setting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's quite a few in the old ScR Sectional Appendices (1960/70s) primarily for use at & on approach to junctions, diverging lines etc, to let the signalman know which route you wanted.

Don't know if they're still relevant with today's signalling.

 

Edited by keefer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, Cofga said:

Here in the US railroads nationwide have long used a well defined set of whistle and/or horn signals. For example 2 long indicated a train or loco was about to move forward and 3 short meant a reverse move, etc. I have been looking for a similar set of signals for UPK steam whistles and early diesel locos for the low and hi horns but can’t seem to find much. Videos provide evidence of the guard whistle being blown when the train was ready to leave and that was followed by a single whistle blast from the engineer, but other than that I am mystified.  Since all my steam locos and my GWR Flying Banana have DCC sound I’d like to use them prototypically. Thanks for any guidelines—Larry

Two lots in Britain (in the old days) -

1.  A number of standard/regular situation whistle signals were included in he Rule Book and basically applied nationally although there were no dobt a few CompanyRegional Variations which were included in Company/Regional documentation. At one time some of these were published in working timetables

2.  A considerable variety of local codes were published in the relevant Sectional Appendix.  For example the 1950 edition of the WR's Cardiff Valleys Appendix lists 14 (fourteen) pages of local whistle codes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, The Stationmaster said:

Two lots in Britain (in the old days) -

1.  A number of standard/regular situation whistle signals were included in he Rule Book and basically applied nationally although there were no dobt a few CompanyRegional Variations which were included in Company/Regional documentation. At one time some of these were published in working timetables

2.  A considerable variety of local codes were published in the relevant Sectional Appendix.  For example the 1950 edition of the WR's Cardiff Valleys Appendix lists 14 (fourteen) pages of local whistle codes.

 

I seem to recall  (Argo Records - Shap)  it was 4 Crows on the Whistle if the train required a Banker on Shap for instance.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've just bought a book of NBR whistle codes from the NBR Study Group, which contains a mere 83 pages of codes, and 43 different ones at just one location!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
58 minutes ago, Wickham Green said:

Crikey - the bobby obviously needed good hearing as well as eyesight !

But even more so Drivers needed a very good memory!

  • Agree 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Nick Holliday said:

I've just bought a book of NBR whistle codes from the NBR Study Group, which contains a mere 83 pages of codes, and 43 different ones at just one location!

The impracticality of expecting the most ordinary of people to remember huge amounts of tedious detail has always struck me as the basic weakness in railway safety, in contrast to the rigorous mechanical safety provided in signal interlocking etc. 

 

I equate it to the 14 pages of safety instructions provided at the front of the handbook of today's most basic household appliance. If you get it wrong, it won't be "our" fault. 

  • Agree 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, The Stationmaster said:

 A considerable variety of local codes were published in the relevant Sectional Appendix.  For example the 1950 edition of the WR's Cardiff Valleys Appendix lists 14 (fourteen) pages of local whistle codes.

A few unofficial one as well. Passing Milcote box approaching Stratford upon Avon the driver waving a cup was  'need to stop to take water.' Punching the palm of the hand was 'I need the Banker'

  • Like 1
  • Informative/Useful 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems the US whistle codes line up with the UK bell codes used on multiple unit stock between guard and driver. 1 stop, 2 for go forward, 3 set back/reverse etc. I forget the rest!

 

As others have said, there were so many whistle codes at various locations, but generally a train may sound the horn once when starting from a station just to warn all that it was about to move, otherwise only at whistle boards or when persons are on or about the line.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, The Stationmaster said:

But even more so Drivers needed a very good memory!

As did the guards and shunters they were working with, especially the shunters. 

 

6 hours ago, Oldddudders said:

The impracticality of expecting the most ordinary of people to remember huge amounts of tedious detail has always struck me as the basic weakness in railway safety, in contrast to the rigorous mechanical safety provided in signal interlocking etc. 

 

I equate it to the 14 pages of safety instructions provided at the front of the handbook of today's most basic household appliance. If you get it wrong, it won't be "our" fault. 

Most of these instructions applied to localised areas where regular staff had learned them and ‘outsiders’ seldom ventured.  But, I assure you, this knowledge had to be acquired and memorised for daily use in large siding complexes and dock areas.  Considerable track (as opposed to route) mileages were worked in such places without signalling or interlocking, by hand signals and whistle code, by ‘the most ordinary of people’. 

Edited by The Johnster
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, TheSignalEngineer said:

A few unofficial one as well. Passing Milcote box approaching Stratford upon Avon the driver waving a cup was  'need to stop to take water.' Punching the palm of the hand was 'I need the Banker'

 

I believe Drivers used (and maybe still do) unofficial handsignals towards Signalmen who they thought had delayed their train unnecessarily........

 

  • Agree 1
  • Funny 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, caradoc said:

 

I believe Drivers used (and maybe still do) unofficial handsignals towards Signalmen who they thought had delayed their train unnecessarily........

 

Got a few of those one day when I accidentally dropped a track circuit during some testing. Put a red one in front of a 25 hauling 15 loaded Dogfish wagons up a 1 in 80 on a wet morning. took the driver about ten minutes to get it moving again.

  • Friendly/supportive 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Wickham Green said:

Crikey - the bobby obviously needed good hearing as well as eyesight !

For their one or two locations, what about the drivers who would need to remember the several dozen of locations they might pass through?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, The Johnster said:

As did the guards and shunters they were working with, especially the shunters. 

 

Most of these instructions applied to localised areas where regular staff had learned them and ‘outsiders’ seldom ventured.  But, I assure you, this knowledge had to be acquired and memorised for daily use in large siding complexes and dock areas.  Considerable track (as opposed to route) mileages were worked in such places without signalling or interlocking, by hand signals and whistle code, by ‘the most ordinary of people’. 

As I was passed out in Rules & Regulations, including Signalbox Regs, I appreciate the local instruction element. But if you look at the depth of detail in the 1950 Rule Book, expecting any ordinary mortal to rise correctly to every eventuality was a tall order. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 07/02/2020 at 11:00, roythebus said:

It seems the US whistle codes line up with the UK bell codes used on multiple unit stock between guard and driver. 1 stop, 2 for go forward, 3 set back/reverse etc. I forget the rest!

 

As others have said, there were so many whistle codes at various locations, but generally a train may sound the horn once when starting from a station just to warn all that it was about to move, otherwise only at whistle boards or when persons are on or about the line.

That's one area that changed.  The original Rule Book (Rule 117 in the 1950 book, in Section J in the 1972 book) code for audible signals  was the basic code for controlling shunting etc using a whistle or klaxon (or even a white light signal with a code built-in)  was this -

1 for go ahead, 

2 for set-back.

3 for stop, and

4 for ease couplings

 

But the DMU etc buzzer code was different and had 1 for stop etc as explained in Roy's post.  So the standard code for audible signals was altered to bring it into line with the with the DMU etc code and it was obviously in any case far more logical to use 1 for stop instead of 3.  I'm not sure when it was altered but am fairly sure it was in the early 1970s and at a date after the new (1972) Rule Book had been brought into use.

 

15 hours ago, Oldddudders said:

As I was passed out in Rules & Regulations, including Signalbox Regs, I appreciate the local instruction element. But if you look at the depth of detail in the 1950 Rule Book, expecting any ordinary mortal to rise correctly to every eventuality was a tall order. 

But it was very much what was expected of us in ground level managerial posts, especially on the WR, and certain jobs much higher up the tree than that - as a Regional 'On Call Officer' for example.  And in one job I was the 'Regional authority' on Rules and Regs so was the person anybody and everybody came to when they needed an interpretation or wider explanation of any Rule or Regulation (Just as there was a similar 'authority' on the WMRS at the BRB).

 

And of course you needed some pretty comprehensive knowledge if you were responsible for examining all grades of traffic staff (except footplatemen) in Rules and dealing with a wide variety of incidents.  On one area where I was an Asst. Area Manager on the Western I had Guards and Shunters etc to examine plus a need to know Signalling Regulations involving Absolute Block, Track Circuit Block, Permissive Block, Electric Token Block, Acceptance Lever Working, WR Tokenless Block, (with a particular responsibility during block failures),  No Signalman Key Token working, the General Appendix (WR) Table C2 working, relevant Local Instructions, plus AHB Instructions and the Working manual for Rail Staff (WMRS) Instructions in respect of freight train working  (and, in some cases, training and ab-initio examination of Signalmen),  oh and the Cash Regulations ;)

 

But it was all part of everyday work and a lot of the time simply talking to staff helped keep everyone, including me, up to date.  On that Area I had a couple of Signalmen who loved asking managers questions on Rules and Signalling Regulations, and obviously they wanted the right answers.  But that wasn't a problem for me because when I'd been in South Wales one of my signalmen and I used to spend a lot of time doing exactly that with each other during evening signal box visits (usually when I was working the box and he was making the tea).

 

I think a lot of it with Rules etc depends on how your mind works and mine - for whatever reason - has long been on that sort of wavelength and probably still is in many respects (but I couldn't remember train times to save my life so according to some 'experts' I was never 'a proper railwayman' :rolleyes:).

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nor was I, Mike, not up to scratch with a shunting pole...

 

The dmu code was being used as communication between driver and a guard riding back cab on fully fitted trains when I started in 1970, and probably from the inception of back cab working the year before, though I couldn’t say if this was ‘official’.  I remember being told to press a long ‘one’ for stop so it couldn’t be interpreted as an accidental press!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎07‎/‎02‎/‎2020 at 17:33, caradoc said:

 

I believe Drivers used (and maybe still do) unofficial handsignals towards Signalmen who they thought had delayed their train unnecessarily........

 

Only if they wanted to be stopped there again the following day!

 

Some bobbies had a mean streak.

Edited by LMS2968
  • Like 1
  • Agree 1
  • Funny 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just an example from the LMS 1936 March 1937 Western Division Sectional Appendix.

 

Walsall No.2 box was at the south end of the station and Pleck Junction was the north end of the Bescot triangle less than 3/4 mile away.

1094668440_wlwhistlecodes.jpg.1134a78c08f68f6c20fc7d0794c39cce.jpg

 

If the driver found the signal was on when approaching a converging junction he was supposed to alert the signalman by sounding the same whistle code as for line he was approching on as when coming the other way.

 

An even more complex example was Northampton Castle No.1 to No.4, a distance of about one mile, where there were 54 whistle codes listed.

Edited by TheSignalEngineer
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This could turn into an interesting competition - Barry Station Signal Box - Barry Jcn Signal Box - distance 7 chains (154 yds) between the two 'boxes  - 52 (fifty two) local whistle codes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, The Stationmaster said:

This could turn into an interesting competition - Barry Station Signal Box - Barry Jcn Signal Box - distance 7 chains (154 yds) between the two 'boxes  - 52 (fifty two) local whistle codes.

***&!!! I've just put the book away.

  • Funny 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.