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  Enthusiast Activities - Signals and Communications

Preserved Historic Signalling Devices

As part of our charter to create an operating railway museum we have preserved a range of different signalling and track switching devices representative of those found around the State during the SAR period and rarely seen on today's "modern" railway systems.

These photos may take a little while to download - so be patient!

  Main Line Fixed Signals

The examples below show four different types of signals commonly used on the branchline from the turn of the 20th century. The three different forms of semaphore signals are distinguised by the shape of the arm. Arms on the first two move upwards from the horizontal (upper quadrant signals), whilst the arm on the VH home signal moves downwards by 45degs (lower quadrant signal). A more modern colorlight "searchlight" signal completes the collection.

Permissive Semaphore
Signal approaching
Mt Barker Junction
from Mt Barker

The lower arm, permanently set at 45degs conveys the "caution medium speed" indication and warns that the line terminates at a dead-end on the platform road.

Train Authority Signal
(previously Train Order)
at Strathalbyn and
Mt Barker Stations

Two arms are mounted back-to-back.

A closed station has both arms vertical and the yellow disk displayed. Both arms horizontal indicate the train should stop for an authority (red light). The facing arm at 45degs indicates that the train should slow to collect an authority (yellow), a vertical arm acknowledges that the train has a "through" authority (green light).

Semaphore Signal
at Victor Harbor

The lower quadrant signal is located just prior to the facing switches at Victor Harbor and is used to control entry to the yard when the station is attended. The signal is normally lowered when the station is first opened so that trains can enter the yard on the main line without stopping.

If a train is to be admitted to other lines the signal remains at STOP and the train is admitted by the SM by handsignal.
Colour "Searchlight"
signal protecting road
crossings at

The signal faces northbound trains departing Strathalbyn
Normally red, it clears to caution (yellow) when the level crossing warning lights for the High Street crossing have been flashing for 20 seconds.

The High Street crossing lights are set in action from push buttons on the platform and in the yard and do not activate automatically so that yard shunting can occur without disrupting road traffic.

Level Crossing Protection

The following photos show the devices used to protect the 76 individual road or farmers access crossings between Mt Barker Junction and Victor Harbor. Twelve crossings are protected by flashing lights, one by a unique "wig wag" warning device using a mechanical arm swinging backwards and forwards and 57 by STOP or triangular GIVE WAY signs

Flashing Lights
and Gongs

Activated either by approaching trains completing track circuits or, at Strathalbyn, by manual push buttons

Historic WigWag
Warning Device

Located at Cameron Road, between Mt Barker Station and the Freeway Tunnel
Unique in South Australia

STOP and

Standard highway signs protecting 20 main and 37 minor road crossings with STOP and triangular GIVE WAY signs respectively

Located on main roads where a minor road diverges to cross a parallel track

Track Switches

Four different types of traditional track switches are employed along the railway. These range from simple lever points and cheese knobs within depots to indicator switch stands and bolt locked indicator stands on main lines. Locos are permitted to travel over each type at different maximum speeds.

Lever Switches

Used in depots and goods sidings. May be spring loaded, allowing trailing movements to reset the switch
Spring loaded switches are found, for example, on triangle roads at Goolwa Depot
Cheese Knobs

Used in depots and goods sidings. The heavy cheese shaped weight flips over when the switch is operated and holds it firmly in position. May be padlocked to protect movements on running lines

Indicator Switchstands

Used at facing points on the main line. The green arrow indicates the switch is set for the main line, a red disk that it is set for a crossing loop. Usually padlocked

Switchstands in yards usually have the indicators mounted closer to rail level.

Place your mouse over the photo above to see an example of a low level switch controlling a goods siding (indicated by a yellow disk).
Bolt Locked
Indicator Switchstand

Used at main line facing switches to the yard and triangle at Goolwa Depot to allow through trains to travel at track speed.

The points are operated by the left hand switchstand and if correctly set are locked by the right hand indicator.

Place your mouse over the photo above to see how the green pin operated by the right hand indicator locks the switch by passing through a slot in the red plate connected to the switch blades.
main signalling page