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Progress with Tablet Instruments (Part 4)

Here are the quick links to the former articles:

Part 1 dated 7th December 2020 can be viewed HERE,
Part 2 dated 26th January 2021 HERE, and
Part 3 dated 1
3th March 2021 HERE.


Tablet Instruments – More of the same

Malcolm Kitchen has sent another report on his work to recreate Tyer’s No.6 Tablet Instruments needed for use on our extended railway. Tablet instruments will be necessary at the L&B stations with passing loops in order to manage the safe passage of one train at a time to operate over the single line track connecting those stations. 

Second Tablet Instrument Stand

Having already made one tablet instrument stand, I thought I should make at least one more to match.  Looking round my shed, it looked like I would have enough wood and fittings salvaged from old furniture, bonfires and tips over the last year for the job; the only new material needed would be some ply for the side panels.

Fig 1 - Second tablet instrument stand under construction.

The two stands are not quite identical because some dimensions slightly in the light of experience, and the use of re-cycled wood produces variety in some cross sections. The differences are small enough not to be noticeable – especially if the stands are eventually located at either end of a level frame, rather than side-by-side.

Fig 2 – The two completed tablet instrument stands.

Another Tablet Instrument

Attention then turned to the refurbishment of another tablet instrument. The indicator and side panels had already been dealt with (see previous news articles), so a start was made on the baseplate and tablet lifting arm.

Fig 3 (Left) - Tablet instrument baseplate before. Fig 4 (Right) - And after refurbishment.

This particular instrument probably originates from Taynuilt on the Callander and Oban line, and has a slide that accepts square-shaped tablets. Before any more progress can be made with the refurbishment, a slide for circular tablets (as used on the L&B) needs to be either made or sourced from elsewhere.

Block Bells

In the S&T store is a box containing miscellaneous, mainly brass, fittings from various  signal box instruments.  The contents include parts from four or five block bells, and from a similar number of block instruments (of at least three different types!).  As far as I can determine, there are no complete sets of parts, and none of the wooden instrument cases have survived.

Fig 5 – Some block bell components - two armatures and a telegraph key, or ‘tapper’.

Although the L&B does not need more block bells in the immediate future, I thought I would see if I could create a few extras/spares from the bits to hand by making new cases and replacements for other missing components.  The first bell to be re-created was one of the  underslung type, in which the bell dome is located beneath the coils. The new case was made from a mahogany furniture panel kindly donated to the L&B. The new coils are about one third shorter (and hence fatter) than typical Tyer’s coils, and the wire it is not laid down as neatly, but functionally they are perfectly OK. My rather messy windings are fortunately hidden under  traditional red leathercloth covers. 

Fig 6 – ‘new’ block bell exterior.

Fig 7 - ‘new’ block bell from below

Fig 8 - ‘new’ block bell interior

If you have any parts we could use, please email us.

Malcolm Kitchen

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