2 Light Signal Light Position

Discussion in 'Operations' started by Boomer John, Dec 15, 2011.

  1. Boomer John

    Boomer John Member

    My West Bottoms protoypically crosses the KCT and Santa Fe as goes up Santa Fe Street. I have decided to signal these two crossings. I have some dwarfs at several location, it really add to the operations. I want to put in two Oregon Rail Supply 2 light signals. There is a green LED and a red LED. Was there a standard practice on which was on top and which one was below?

  2. gbmott

    gbmott Member

    It varies railroad to railroad, but from my experience it would appear that red is more frequently on the bottom.

  3. wmrx

    wmrx MP Trainmaster

    I have operated on every railroad that serves Kansas City and green is definitely on the top. There is probably an exception out there somewhere, but it would be very rare.
  4. gstout

    gstout Member Frisco.org Supporter

    Green is always on top (unlike a highway traffic signal). Hence the expression "high green."

  5. mvtelegrapher

    mvtelegrapher Member

    Red on the bottom is a holdover from the old manual signals and mechanical semaphores in which if there was some type of system failure with the signal and it dropped down it would failsafe to the most restrictive aspect which would be red or stop indication. This is according to the book I read on signal history.

    John Chambers
  6. klrwhizkid

    klrwhizkid Administrator Staff Member Administrator Frisco.org Supporter

    John's comment fits what I have heard as the description of signal behavior by almost all older railroaders; "the signal dropped to red". After studying all the different indication types, most involve a physical or logical change in position as well as possible color.

    The old ball type system used a ball or balls on cords attached to a mast; When the ball was hoisted to the uppermost position, the train crew did not have to stop for train orders (origin of the term, highball).
    Newer systems have involved upper-quadrant semaphores whose arm would drop to the horizontal position for stop indication, or multiple lamp systems with green at the top and red at the bottom.
  7. gbmott

    gbmott Member

    The terms "high green" and "dropped to red" refer to actions of the arm of a semaphore, not the placement of the respective lenses in a colorlight signal. As for exceptions to green on top, the C&O always put red on top if it was the top unit of a two- or three-unit signal. The lower unit would have red on the bottom. The motive was to give maximum visual separation between the upper and lower reds in a red-over-red stop indication. Nonetheless, I think all of us agree you would be on solid ground to put the green on top!


    SAFN SAAP Member

    GB, thank you for saying that. I was going to post that very thing because I worked on the C&O as a conductor, but I didn't want to start an argument/fight. Most eastern and southern railroads used RED on top. I'm a semaphore man though. Since the Frisco had them, that is all I would use unless forced to use color position lights.
  9. wmrx

    wmrx MP Trainmaster

    Manny, you should not be afraid to post info to this site for fear of starting a "discussion." ;) If the C&O had the practice of putting red on the top, then that is what they did. Having never operated east of the Mississippi, I was not aware of this practice. As the old saying goes, "you learn something new everyday."

    Since this is a Frisco site, I think the statement that red is on the bottom is valid. That seems to be the norm on "western railroads." I know the Frisco had operations east of the Mississipi, but I believe that it still qualifies as a western road. Does anyone have any info to the contrary?

    As for the term "High Green," I'm still not convinced that it is directly related to semaphore type signals. I think it has more to do with a speed or route indication, since the top or "high" signal head governs the most favorable or fastest route. Any comments?

    SAFN SAAP Member

    I have been looking and have found no such reference to "High Green" anywhere. The only thing that I could possibly link it to was the old saying of "High Ball" which was when the ball system was being used to signal trains of activity on the rails. If the ball was up or "high" then it was safe to go full track speed. If the ball was half way down, or on the bottom, it was an approach indication or for the latter, a STOP indication.


    If a signal dropped, that means that the indication on the signal in entirety went "red" or STOP. If you had a clear indication (green over one, or two reds), then it meant full track speed according to timetable or train orders.
  11. Karl

    Karl 2008 Engineer of the Year Frisco.org Supporter

    Frisco Rules of the Transportation Dept, Mar 1, 1957:

    Rule 281; Signal Aspects, Green, or Green over Red, or Green over Red over Red; Name, Clear Signal; Indication, Proceed; Call, "High Green".

    Any Aspect of only Red, Rules 289 (grade), 290 (stop and proceed), or 291 (A-block), the "Call" is "All Red"
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 17, 2011
  12. wmrx

    wmrx MP Trainmaster

    Thanks, Karl. I would never have guessed that there was actually a reference to "High Green" in a rule book. The same goes for "All Red." That is the term I have always heard and used, but I had no idea that it was ever "official."
  13. gbmott

    gbmott Member

    Manny - Where is that depot with the highball signal that you included in your post? As for East/West standards, I can't speak historically but the current standard for CSX, NS and FEC is green on top.
    Kevin - I'm sticking to my story on the origin of "dropped to red", but you may have a case for "high green". I was thinking about the term having been around for so long, but there were two- and three-unit semaphores so the term could have applied to the upper unit, not the position of the blade.


    SAFN SAAP Member

    That depot is located in North Conway NH. Check out this HO Scale High Ball signal. It is hand-made, and thanks to the builder, he lists the parts to make it. He's the picture and the link.


    How to make a High Ball Signal

    As for the CSX having green on top, I'm afraid you are mistaken. That is not consistent throughout the system. CSX has not unified its signals across the system. The C&O was red on top, like others in the system. Only the B&O continues to use those funky color position lights on the disc.

    Here is a picture along the C&O right-of-way in WV. Shows both stop and clear...

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 18, 2011
  15. Steve40cal

    Steve40cal Member

    The ever frugal Frisco actually used some single color light signals with red on top at diverging routes in place of two signals staged one over the other as you see today. A green or yellow from a signal with green on the bottom was a proceed signal for main line movement. If the red signal was lit with a yellow or green underneath it was an indication for a diverging route. I think these were on the River Subdivision around Memphis. There are countless methods for using signal combinations and colors but I thought this might interest Frisco modelers. I prefer Semaphores myself. Steve
  16. gbmott

    gbmott Member

    CSX 'Twin' S Bds.. Jax FL 12-10 (2).jpg Manny -- What I meant to say is that the CURRENT CSX standard is for green on top. There are many signals still in service on the former C&O that pre-date the merger. Anything new, however, uses the green on top standard. This is particularly evident on the former B&O where the traditional color position light (CPL) signals are being rapidly replaced.

  17. wmrx

    wmrx MP Trainmaster

    It's about time those CSX guys got their railroad up to speed. :D
  18. gbmott

    gbmott Member


    Both trains are moving. This is in Jacksonville on the former ACL line through Orlando and about three miles ahead at St. Johns is the end of two main tracks. The automobile train on the right is accelerating as it will run ahead of the coal train. Of interest is the fact that both trains are headed by 6,000 hp CW60's, very rare units. And don't worry, they'll both be at track speed as soon as they clear the Ortega River bridge!
    Gordon (Asst. VP, CSX ret'd.) [​IMG]

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