A New Beginning-The AV Train Order Signal

 by Dan Myers


    On March 27, 2007, fifty years to the day of the closing of the New York, Ontario and Western Railway, the train order signal from the historic Wickham Avenue station began its new life.  Ravaged by thieves and vandals after the February 2004 fire, the 95-year old Union Switch and Signal Style-B Electric Train Order Signal stood gaunt, seemingly stripped of its importance as the last in-situ remnant of the railroad’s complex signaling system.


Now, after a year of working with foundries, the fabrication and procurement of missing parts and a lot of elbow grease the signal has been restored to its original glory!


Photo 1 -  The train order signal stands intact in this photo of the February 2, 2004 station fire.  Photo courtesy of the Goshen Fire Department.  For more photos of the fire click on the link: http://www.goshennyfd.org/photos/2004/020204/index.shtml


Photo 2 - The AV Order Board shows clear on March 29, 2008 as it waits for Train 1, the 9:39 AM, Northbound Ontario Express from Weehawken.


Photo 3 - March 2007.  Stripped of both blades, one spectacle plate and lens holder, the specialized two-way electric semaphore lamp and its complex mechanism the 95-year old signal looks like a hopeless cause.


Photo 4 - The mast and signal case were unbolted and separately lifted down from the station platform by a local crane service.


Photo 5 - Kitbashed- The lens holder, attached to the remaining cast iron spectacle plate, looks to be home made by the O&W’s shop forces.  Many aspects of the signal appear to have been kitbashed from a standard Union Switch and Signal product.  The signal’s mast has two weld splices showing that 6 feet had been removed from a standard 11’ signal mast for use on the roof of the station’s platform.


Photo 6 - US&SCo. Patent plate showing patent dates ranging from 1897 to 1901.


Photo 7 - New components.  The original spectacle casting was used as a pattern to cast a second, identical spectacle plate. 

Photo 8 - Style B mechanism.  Unfortunately, none of the stolen components, including the wonderfully complex dual semaphore mechanism have been recovered. Here's a link to the "Style B" maintenance manual.  These mechanisms were used on all automatic semaphores on the O&W.  http://www.semaphores.com/USSSB.PDF 

Photo 9 - Complete.  With the addition of lenses and lens holders the signal is complete one year after its acquisition from O&W Properties