Fuller Jct. Signal Identification

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Fuller Jct. Signal Identification

Unread postby kd_1014 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 6:10 pm

I've been railfanning around Fuller Jct, or Ann St. as you would call it in Grand Rapids, Michigan, near Walker, MI for a few years now. Having the Grand Rapids Eastern cross CSX right after their yard, they have to have some sort of signals. The signals are a double-headed US&S searchlight signal. I have a few questions about this. Due to the fact that they are just crossing the diamond after the yard with no switches, why is the signal double-headed? This is the same occurrence on CSX on the track crossing the GRE. My other question would be, what signal identification would be given for the one train coming in and out of the GRE yard? There are no other signals other than the ones guarding the diamond at Fuller, so would it be a green clear signal or yellow Approach due to there being no other signals till the end of the track in Lowell? Please provide me with info, it would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
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Re: Fuller Jct. Signal Identification

Unread postby barnstormer » Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:12 pm

kd_1014 wrote:I've been railfanning around Fuller Jct, or Ann St. as you would call it in Grand Rapids, Michigan, near Walker, MI for a few years now. Having the Grand Rapids Eastern cross CSX right after their yard, they have to have some sort of signals. The signals are a double-headed US&S searchlight signal. I have a few questions about this. Due to the fact that they are just crossing the diamond after the yard with no switches, why is the signal double-headed? This is the same occurrence on CSX on the track crossing the GRE. My other question would be, what signal identification would be given for the one train coming in and out of the GRE yard? There are no other signals other than the ones guarding the diamond at Fuller, so would it be a green clear signal or yellow Approach due to there being no other signals till the end of the track in Lowell? Please provide me with info, it would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!


This type is the old Chessie(C&O) signal, and is an absolute one, of which ALL are either a 2- or 3-unit variety (each head is called a unit, as it may contain 1-4 lamps to cover the various colors required for each combination of aspects that this signal mast must display)

Long ago, there were signals employed on the old Grand Trunk Western east of this location (intermediate, I believe) and I know this because I once lived near these tracks, and witnessed many a red signal (for westbounds) at the College street overhead bridge, and near Rapistan (east of Fuller ave.), when they would pass by the area. Sometime later the signals were taken out, probably by the shortline after CN sold it in the late 80's/early 90's, IIRC.

This signal at Fuller diamond would now display either a STOP or CLEAR signal, as they are likely the only options needed, after the other signals were removed. The green would indicate that the move is clear to proceed across the diamond, then continue under whichever rules apply to the movement beyond that point. this is why (I believe) you see the multi-unit signal there....(I welcome any corrections to this, as I'm not qualified east of the diamond on the GRE, though I am quite familiar with its history.)

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Re: Fuller Jct. Signal Identification

Unread postby kd_1014 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 8:35 pm

Gotcha, Thanks so much. I understand why it would display a Clear or Stop indication, because just west and east of those signals is a fixed approach signal, which I would assume you need to get track authority to proceed over the diamond, which means you need to stop. Thanks for the info!
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Re: Fuller Jct. Signal Identification

Unread postby Saturnalia » Sun Mar 03, 2019 8:52 pm

kd_1014 wrote:Gotcha, Thanks so much. I understand why it would display a Clear or Stop indication, because just west and east of those signals is a fixed approach signal, which I would assume you need to get track authority to proceed over the diamond, which means you need to stop. Thanks for the info!

The signals at the diamond at Fuller on the GRE only govern that interlocking plant alone - outside of the signals, they mean nothing. To the west it is all yard limits so the crews move at restricted "don't hit anything" speed and are on the lookout for anything they might hit. Not sure but I'm willing to bet the yard limits go all the way to the C&M property line just west of Alpine.

Headed east, there may be more yard limit territory for a short distance but at some point it's all track authority to Lowell, so they get written orders from a dispatcher.

The approach signals to Fuller on the GRE side are just approach: they'll show approach indications if the diamond is not lined, and clear indications if they are lined over the CSX, regardless of what is in the block between the approach signals and the junction itself.

Of course on the CSX side it is all CTC controlled, south of the southward absolute signals (SAS) at the diamond. To the north of those signals, it is also track authority, and the signal at Turner Street is an approach signal to Fuller Jct that acts in much the same way as the ones on the GRE side. However at some point a couple years ago its behavior changed. Used to be stop when something was lined north at Fuller, approach when nothing was lined at Fuller, and clear when there was a line-up south across Fuller. Now the signal is red except for when there is a line-up at Fuller heading south, at least based on my observations.

As for the absolute mast signals at Fuller all having two heads, it has long been the tradition of CSX's predecessors, and continues to be the case today, that all absolute signals have two heads, regardless if they're necessary or not. For the ones at Fuller, they need the bottom head to display a restricting indication, which is red over yellow, and possibly others, I have never fully looked into the signal/route logic at that location, and it may have changed once Watson was eliminated over a year ago. Today CSX still does 2-head absolutes, by choosing to hang the lunar white lamp on the second head with another red lamp, but according to the signal rules, having all four colors on the top head would technically be legal in that sense. Sometimes, traditions die hard, and there is an argument to be had for having two lamps on absolute masts, in case one burns out so that there is more likely to still be a signal of some form displayed - at least to mark the spot as a visual reminder. It's easier to pass a dark signal than one that is improperly displayed, but at least lit "somehow".
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Re: Fuller Jct. Signal Identification

Unread postby kd_1014 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:09 pm

Thank you so much for the info, greatly appreciated. Now, this may be a stupid comment but for the CSX Y297 (597 occasionally), MQT Z151, and the occasional GDLK local, would the signal on the south side of the diamond display a clear indication for those trains? I'm assuming the signal would be clear for Z151 because that's the only through-train but I'm not sure for the other locals that do work around PADNOS and the sand plant on the old GR&I.
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Re: Fuller Jct. Signal Identification

Unread postby Saturnalia » Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:22 pm

kd_1014 wrote:Thank you so much for the info, greatly appreciated. Now, this may be a stupid comment but for the CSX Y297 (597 occasionally), MQT Z151, and the occasional GDLK local, would the signal on the south side of the diamond display a clear indication for those trains? I'm assuming the signal would be clear for Z151 because that's the only through-train but I'm not sure for the other locals that do work around PADNOS and the sand plant on the old GR&I.

I believe that Y297 would get a restricting when heading for the run-around, and the Grand Elk should also get a restricting into their sand yard, but I have never confirmed this. Very small chance that they get something odd like a medium clear into the sand yard, as the signal would again only apply within the controlled point limits.
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Re: Fuller Jct. Signal Identification

Unread postby justalurker66 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:28 pm

kd_1014 wrote:Gotcha, Thanks so much. I understand why it would display a Clear or Stop indication, because just west and east of those signals is a fixed approach signal, which I would assume you need to get track authority to proceed over the diamond, which means you need to stop. Thanks for the info!

A true "fixed approach" signal shouldn't change. (The word "fixed" means something.) That signal should always signal "approach" regardless of the next signal. It is a good warning to the train crew that the important next signal is ahead. I have seen them on several (non-C&O) lines. They do not give the condition of the track between the fixed signal and the signal being approached.

One step up from a "fixed approach" is a distant signal. They also do not give the condition of the track between the signal and the signal being approached but can give the condition of the important next signal. If a diamond signal is clear the distant signal would show "approach clear" even if the track between the distant and diamond was occupied or damaged or a switch was open, etc. If the diamond signal is stop the distant signal would be "approach restricting". (These names may vary depending on how the rulebook is worded.)

Searchlight signals make it more difficult to see what aspects are present (one lamp can be multiple colors). On non-searchlight signals one can usually count lamps and figure out if the distant signal can be green for an approach clear or yellow for an approach restricting. One lamp on a non-searchlight signal is likely to be a yellow "fixed approach" signal.

Authority - in CTC territory one can get that from the signals. In this case a clear signal at the diamond would show that CSX has given authority to cross. Whether the train has authority to occupy GRE tracks either side of the diamond would be up to GRE's rules.
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