interesting signal

  1. BN3140
    Can anyone explain how this worked?
  2. jovet
    It's called a Ball Signal. It's one of the first formal styles of signaling used. They were particularly popular at minor diamond crossings and bridges.

    The large, red, usually round balls can be raised or lowered by hand. The position of the balls would tell trains approaching that diamond crossing which track was cleared to use the crossing. Sometimes lanterns would be attached to the ball lines for better night aspects.

    The aspects varied widely and were specified in the local timetable. One ball up ("high ball") could mean one track was OK to cross, while the other ball up could refer to the other track. Or both balls might refer to the other track. Or one ball could mean westbound movements on one track were okay; the other ball eastbound movements on the same track, and both balls any movement on the crossing track. Like I said, it varied. Some ball signals got rather intricate, with more than two balls, some even on the same line.
  3. jovet
    To my knowledge that picture shows the last ball signal in actual use near Whitefield, NH. I also understand it's no longer in service, but only as of a year or two or three ago.
  4. BN3140
    Very interesting! Do you know where I could find a picture of one of the more intricate signals with more than one ball? Would this also be the origin of the term "hiball"?
  5. jovet
    One example of a unique arrangement is on Page 19 of Brian Solomon's Railroad Signaling book you can see here. (You'll have to navigate to page 19 yourself.) I have seen some others--I can picture them in my mind well--but can't remember where I ran across them. A Google image search didn't turn up much help.

    Yes, Ball signals mark the origin of the term "high ball" since some form of raised ball was used as the proceed aspect.
  6. jovet
    Solomon's book is a very nice book to have for anyone interested in North American railroad signaling. I also highly recommend Al Krug's website where he can teach anyone how to properly read signal aspects. And if you can get a hold of it, All About Signals by John Armstrong has always been a great read. (Wow, check out those prices! No, I'm not selling my copy...)
  7. BN3140
    I'll look into those.
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