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January 26th- The Great Sue Line Mysteries

posted Jan 28, 2012, 4:24 PM by Sue Line RailRoad   [ updated Jan 30, 2012, 4:29 AM ]
For longer than any one wanted to admit, there were some mysterious things occurring on the Sue Line- undocumented features, bugs, and just plain not working. This was the time to solve these Mysteries.


For longer than anyone could remember, track 5 in I-49 West Yard in Blanchard would not responds to local control:

Track 5 was avoided at all costs. The only way it would through was by the dispatcher panel down stairs. This may have hindered work on the mystery. The rotary switch was replaced- No change. The cable from the rotary switch to the terminal strip was replaced. The CIC was replaced- No change. (See Physical Plant if you do not recall what a CIC is) The 10 strand wire from the CIC to the TC-64 was replaced- No change. Last be not least it was decided to change out the cable from the terminal strip to the CIC. Along the way, the mystery was solved:

 Site of Solution for Mystery #1

The cable from the terminal switch also carries out put wires to throw turnouts and input wires to read detectors  . The Rotary switch wire had been cut along the way and neatly pulled back and wraped about the outside of the insulation while hooking up a detector. CASE CLOSED.


For several sessions it had been reported that the ABS signals between Crews Siding and Mayville would go to GREEN or YELLOW for 1-2 seconds and then  go RED. The signals were check- No Problem. The phone cable from the signal to the Signal Head Card was checked- No problem. The Signal Head Card was replaced- No change. The 10 wire ribbon cable from the Signal Head Card to the 4-ASD4 signal driver was replaced- No change. The 4-ASD4 Four Aspect Signal Driver Card was replaced- Immediately after power was placed back on the TC-64- MUCH JOY. The 4-ASH4 Four Aspect Signal Driver Card apparently was the culprit, but more on that later.- CASE CLOSED.

Site of Solution for Mystery #2.


Recently it was brought to my attention that the northbound and south bound signals in Sue City at the North X-over were not functioning.

Here the solution was simple and it came quickly, the phone cables from the signals to the Signal Head Card were not connected. Inserting the cables in the appropriate sockets and MAGIC. A very good friend on mine had more than once told me- IT IS ALWAYS SOMETHING SIMPLE- CASE CLOSED.


This was a two part mystery. First the South bound siding signal at the south end of Brandon would not show a RED aspect.

Following the it is always simple dogma. A quick look at the 4 pin connector on the phone line from the signal to the Signal Head Card had a broken solder joint. Soldering never was my strong suit, but after soldering the wire back to the 4 pin connector, one half of this mystery was solved.

Signal from Underworld to Brandon.

Signal going into Underworld.

The second half was a bit more tricky. There are two signals on the lead from Brandon to underworld. One controls traffic from Brandon into Underworld and the other controls traffic from Underworld to Brandon.
Needless to say, both were very important to the operation of the Sue Line. Time moved slowly as attempt after attempt was made to solve the mystery.

The signal heads were replaced-  No change.
The phone cables from the signal head to the Signal Head Card were replaced- No Change.
The Signal Head Cards were replaced- No change.
The 10 wire ribbon cable from the Signal Head Card to the 4-ASD4 Four Signal Driver Card was replaced- No Change.
The 4-ASD4 Signal Driver card was replaced- No change.

After much Blood, Sweat and Tears- No the rock group, it was noticed that when was signal was instructed to change aspect that it did not change, but the other signal did! The phone cables from the Signal Head Card to the Signal Head were reversed. A quick change of the phone cables and- CASE CLOSED.


After the findings at Sue City and Brandon, this look like an easy mystery to solve, but this would be no easy mystery to solve. In fact, it may not be completely solved at this time.

The Southbound signal on the siding at Jeauxville was the culprit. The signal head would display GREEN and RED, but no YELLOW. And in test mode the FLASHING GREEN would not flash, the FLASHING YELLOW displayed RED, and the FLASHING RED would not flash.

A quick look and there were no unconnected cables, no reversed cables, and no broken solder joint. The signal head was replaced- No change. The phone cable from the signal head to the Signal Head Card was replaced- No change.The Signal Head Card was replaced- No change. The 10 wire ribbon cable from the Signal Head Card to the 4-ASD4 Card was replaced- No change. The 4-ASD4 was replaced-twice- No change.
Next the signal head was driven by another 4-ASD4- in a different TC-64. The signal WORKED.

At this point it was decided that the TC-64 was the source of the problem and it was replaced, but the replacement did not have the same firmware version of the other TC-64's. The TC-64 firmware was upgraded to Version 6. The TC-64 had to be reset to a valid Number 10137, not 10000. Then the 10137 had to be cloned from the believed bad 10219. After doing all of this the signal head still did not work.

Everyone involved scratched their head (an a few other anatomical parts, which I will not mention) as what to do next. The 4-ASD4 was plugged in port 6 and it was noted that port 7 was open. Port 7 on the TC-64 was reconfigured as a OUTPUT, SIGNAL port and the 4-ASD4 was moved from port 6 to port 7. The four new signals were added to the Signal Head List and check. There was much joy.

A this point it was realized that the four signals on the panel had to be removed and the four new signals (different address) had be to added to the panel. The SSL for each new signal head had to be entered, but finally- CASE PARTIALLY CLOSED. i hope that Dick Bronson (below with his wife, Karen) of R-R CirKIts can solve the rest of this mystery for us.


The Yard Master as Shreveport has had a problem since the beginning of keeping trains out of his yard. If they had a clear signal at North Morgan they would just roll right into the yard, ready or not. If they had a stop signal, they would call and call the Shreveport Yard Master wanting permission to enter the yard.

Unlike the last mystery, this looked simple. A rotary switch was installed at a convenient place for the Shreveport Yard Master. The switch was labelled as traffic in or traffic out. A level like those used on the old mechanical dispatcher panel was applied.

A review of the current cable usage by the Plants (see physical plant) indicated that cable 8 from the upper CIC at Ashby was not being used as a toggle input. The correct wires were located and connected on to by an extension cable to the rotary switch. The wires were tested and - no joy. After a little testing it was found that the ground (GREEN) wire in the cable plugged into the upper CIC at position 8 was bad. A new ground was obtained and all appeared to work well, untill the rotary was attached. No Joy.

The rotary was pulled and examined- it was broken. A new rotary switch was obtained and it was also broken. Finally a third rotary switch was obtained and all is well. Now the Yard Master at Shreveport can indicate to the dispatcher if he is accepting trains or not. The Logix has been updated so that when a train has been cleared by the dispatcher and the Yard Master, the engineer will get a FLASHING GREEN indication and is clear to enter the yard. Not a word needs to be spoken- CASE CLOSED,

You may have been wondering how long this took- two all day Saturday Sessions and a Thursday night session. Mose Crews (below, left) and Ken Ellison (below, right) took on the Saturday sessions and a GREAT BIG- THANK YOU goes out to both of them.

We was the rest of the group?
They were hard at work doing a complete car check.

Marvin Bennett (above)

Charlie DeVillbiss (above)

Ken Ellison (above)

Danny Garland (above)

Rob Robbins (above)

Mose Crews (above)

Lionel Brangham (above)

Paul Harwell (above, right) and Lionel Brangham (above, left)

Joining us for the session was
John Whitehurst (above, foreground) from Longview, Texas.