Building the railway communication exhibition – part 6

The last two weekends of August 2016 witnessed the grand finale of moving the KATS telephonic exchange. During the four consecutive days everything was transported to their final destination. We started from two racks closest to the entrance to the former exhibition. This way we gained some free space which was vital in the cramped space of the old exchange room. Conveniently, one of those racks had to go to the last span of the framework, which has to be equipped first as later it will be obscured by racks in spans in front of it. As we intended to fill in the spans starting from the back towards front, we collected equipment from various places – one group selector from old exchange and couple of modules from the storage (due to the shortage of space , those were never exhibited). Next, we had to free the racks from the left span of old exchange and place then on the peripheries of new framework. Extracting the racks from old exhibition slowly started resembling a pick-a-stick game.

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Each time a rack was moved to its place, it had to be disassembled as thoroughly as possible to make it lighter. However, sometimes individual parts are soldered solid to the rest and the rack has to be moved as a whole. For example, directional selectors rack had to be transported by five people. Thankfully it was placed on the front span, so its travel wasn’t long. A totally different story was transporting of the intermediary switchboard translations – this one had to go to the last span in the back. The distance was only a couple of steps further, but required exhausting “hurdle run” through the incomplete preceding spans. In the end, we had to fill in the front span. The initial selectors rack, after removing part of the modules, and using the fact that it didn’t had any cables went on its place smoothly. The secondary selectors rack was a bit more tricky as it was possible to only disassemble its bottom part making it top-heavy. Additionally, it was very unwieldy, making its mounting the hardest from all the racks, despite the relatively low weight. The remaining line and group selectors could be fully disassembled so their mounting was trivial.

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Still, it was not the transportation of the racks that exhausted us the most. It appeared that drilling the holes for 10mm bolts in thick angled iron caused the most troubles. High revs of drilling quickly dulled the drill bits so we had to resort to slow drilling speed while simultaneously pressing hard on the drill. The task was already tiring when sitting on the floor and drilling bottom holes. Another level of acrobatics was to drill the top holes while sitting on the ladder. Finally, we decided to take the longer but less exhausting path of drilling in stages – with drill bits of increasing diameter. While drilling, we established a contraption from a vacuum cleaner to collect the metal chips and prevent them gathering in precise equipment of the exchange or getting trampled into linoleum. After mounting of each rack, it was reassembled with temporarily removed parts, to avoid mixing them in the future. Slowly, the new exhibition room gained a new level of “artistic expression” whereas the old one was completely emptied.

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