During the NCYSHS 2008 Annual Meeting, attendees were fortunate to tour the superbly and lovingly restored rare control machine inside "AC" Tower at Marion, Ohio. The interlocking functions all work properly, and the model board displays the track diagram and the lights on each reflect the status of the track circuits representing the location of train movements. Also on the model board are the signal "wind-offs", which are mechanical clocks that safely lock the route and regulate the ability of an operator to take a signal away from an approaching train.
NYCSHS members Pete White and Bill Strassner each gave demonstrations of how the timers actually work, since both men used them often in our careers as railroad towermen, also referred to as "Block Operators" on one property both gentlemen worked upon. A full simulation of a train approaching, having a route lined up, signals cleared and thence its passing was fully demonstrated, with several NYCSHS members actually operating the machine levers. The photo at left is the old Tower "F" machine from the tower at Fostoria, Ohio.
Bill Strassner says, "I had been wanting to visit the Marion Union Station Association for years, ever since I was told about their superb signaling collection, especially control machines of various types." This picture shows a small part of their collection, including a piece of the General Railway Signal Model 5 machine from NYC "BE" Tower, Berea. "CT" tower at Cleveland Union Terminal also had a GRS Model 5 machine, one of the largest in the world and a pleasure to work, according to former leverman Ben Anthony. The towermen had to hustle during the heyday of passenger traffic, as those large CUT motors could readily perform fast and heavy switching in the terminal.
Behind the machine is a typical NYC style GRS 2 arm simple 3 aspect CL signal, the staggering indicating an automatic signal, although missing the required number plate. Also a semaphore signal, posed at clear, and a very rare US&S machine, model MU, with 'true' pistol grip handles for operations. This is a small sample of a fascinating display of signal control machines, as used in towers and also dispatchers' offices. Also in the station complex was the model railroad, on display form our group. A slide show of times past on area railroads was enjoyed by all. Simply a wonderful midday tour, thanks to Pete White and his Marion co-hosts.