2017

After the fairs “Where Cultures Meet”

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From Friday 17th March to Sunday 19th March we were present in Łódź at the Tourist Fairs “Where Cultures Meet”. One could find us in Łódź International Fairs Hall at Politechnike Alley, at our own, modest but recognizable stand and have the opportunity to chat about the coming tourist season and plans for the future.

At the moment we would like to invite you to yet another fairs which will take place from 7th to 8th April in Zabrze. Invited by the city council of Zabrze, we will represent our shed among other industrial tourist attractions at the International Fairs of Industrial Tourism.

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Building the railway communication exhibition – part 2

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Another stage after placing carrier telephony racks on their place was the assembly of main switchboard (so called cross). This stage took place between March and May 2016. Switchboards are vital parts of each automatic exchange which allow for grouping of each of the functionality. This, as we would call it nowadays, architecture allowed for rational division of equipment between specialized racks, their replacement, extension or even bypassing a fault.

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One can find two types of switchboards in telephonic exchanges – main and intermediate – different when it comes to function. Main switchboard is mostly a separate piece of equipment, large enough to have a separate room. It is a sort of an interface of the exchange. Here are connected, from one side the customer and inter-exchange lines (so-called line side), from the other side cables of specific equipment in the exchange. Switchboard allows for quick reconfiguration of connections e.g. change of customer’s telephone number. The intermediate switchboards are actually an integral parts of connecting equipment. They connect each stage of step-by-step number selection as well as additional equipment, allowing the exchange to work as a whole.

A common practice at Polish State railways, was to use only intermediate switchboards, providing that exchange was small (less than 300 numbers) and served small traffic. Such solution was present in the temporary exhibition we created back in 2009. In case of large exchanges e.g. for main railway district office, next to a massive main switchboard were placed two or more intermediate switchboards to keep the rest of the exchange smaller and cut on the length of expensive cables.

While assembling our main switchboard, we had to complete some metalworking. The original switchboard was recovered in parts – we had a number of original spans and a couple of to long horizontal bars. Also the baseplate was missing and had to be created anew. Afterwards, all parts had to be cleaned from rust and multiple layers of old paint, and repainted. After placing on new wooden base, the switchboard sufficient for the capacity of future exchange was mounted in target place in May 2016.


We participate in Tesco competition “You decide, we help”

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We are happy to inform that our project Gatekeeper house as a new exhibit and didactic help in Skierniewice Engine Shed has qualified to the Tesco action “You decide, we help”. Our project intends to create a new outdoor exhibition consisting of a replica of gatekeeper hut (based on State Railways blueprints from 1926) together with level crossing equipment set against the track 63 in the Shed. The hut will have the original furnishing and next to it one will find mechanical boom barriers and manual winch for operating the barriers. New exhibition will become an invaluable didactic help to teach the youngest a proper behaviour on level crossing.

You can vote for our project while shopping in following shops:


Telephone exchange in Engine Shed? Why?

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When several years ago an obsolete railway communication network was unquestioningly dismantled in Poland, one could still hope that few of the example exchanges will be saved and will find their second life as a museum exhibits. Plenty of emerging museum facilities devoted to railways made one assume that railway communication equipment will become as attractive souvenir of the past, as old steam engines and cars. Time has verified those assumptions – among all the interested parties only Skierniewice Engine Shed collected nearly complete set of equipment to prepare a fully-fledged historical telephonic exchange in working order. Except us, only Engine Shed in Wolsztyn decided to save for posterity a modest example of KATS railway exchange. A situation worth citing a classic: among his best friends, dogs devoured the hare.

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Siemens automatic exchanges shared the fate of engines class Ty2/42/43 (German BR52). Left after the occupant in large quantity and good working order, they become a common part of railway everyday life. They were still produced after the World War II, mainly from Czechoslovakia (Tesla works in Kolin obtained a license for Siemens & Halske communication solutions in the late 1930’s and 1940’s). Slowly the national telecommunication industry took part in the development of this exchange system, building new parts and equipment which were not involved in the basic imported version. After twenty years of modest involvement of Polish telecommunication factories (focused only on exchanges based on step-by-step switch 32A, incompatible with Siemens system) they started to pay closer attention to the railway needs. In the end of 1960’s a successful Polish construction of cross-switches allowed for design and production of end exchanges type CK-20 and CK-60 – fully compatible with Siemens system but requiring much less maintenance effort. This was actually the end of automation of railway telephone network, making obsolete the manual switchboards which one could still find even in major railway junctions. Even the appearance of licensed French Pentaconta exchanges was quickly followed by adapting them to work with Siemens “granddaddy”.

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Currently, a decade after full introduction of electronic exchanges at the State Railway telephone network, it appeared that no-one attempted to consider the old electro-mechanical exchanges as a national heritage. Not only the railway network suffered this fate. None of the postal town exchanges have been saved for posterity, not to mention the internal exchanges for large facilities. It is nearly impossible to find currently any example of automatic switchboards like PŁA912/923, ET25/50, AT100/200, FT100/200, CAA200/1000, CAGK, AG50, CK20/60 or even the common modules for town exchanges like 32AA, 32AB or K66. No proof has been left to support the fact, that there was a large telecommunication branch in Polish industry in the past. Only one can admire how differently the historical communication equipment was dealt with in neighbouring Czech Republic.

Forecasting the grim future for the old railway exchanges, many years ago we started collecting the communication equipment, we bought and transported to Engine Shed nearly complete Siemens exchange, both types of CK exchanges and less related to railway but still historically important switchboards of type FT (a descendants of type AT, the first automatic exchanges in PKP).

Now, it is time to assemble the collection into one functioning piece. In the adapted two rooms the Siemens exchange is taking shape. In the attached photos, you can compare our exhibit with the factory catalogue from 1939. Similar, aren’t they? Next in the queue for assembling are FT200 switchboard and CK20 and CK60 exchanges.

We invite to cooperation. Railway is not limited to trains and tracks…


Important notice for the donors of 1% of income tax

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Dear supporters,

Similarly to year 2016 we wanted to send a thank-you letter to all donors of 1% of income tax. Unfortunately, due to the changed tax and private data protection rules, we cannot use any address data provided by tax office without the consent of the donor. Therefore, we would like to ask all those who do not mind to receive such a letter, to provide us with your address via our association’s email zarzad@psmk.org.pl. It is also possible to request for a letter which can be received in person e.g. during the events in Engine Shed.


Building the railway communication exhibition – part 1

Nearly a year ago we informed about the beginning of assembling the railway communication exhibition. After renovation of two rooms, finalized with laying a new linoleum in January 2016, we installed the complete set of racks for carrier telephony. During the course of couple of weekends, racks were moved to their target place and bolted to the floor and walls (only temporarily, before the overhead cable mounts will be ready). For the time of transportation, racks had to be emptied of all heavy parts and then reassembled on place.

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After finishing the works by the racks, we could move on its place a manual switchboard originating from Skierniewice’s railway exchange (produced by Tesla-Kolin, 1951). The switchboard is still awaiting a clean-up and wiring overhaul before it will be connected to the main Siemens exchange which will be placed in the next room. This is not the only switchboard in our collection. On the planned general exhibition two more examples will be found: similar, but German-built switchboard from 1942 (prod. Siemens & Halske) and a miniature switchboard intended to work with a small KATS exchanges (up to 100 numbers, prod. Tesla-Kolin, 1953). Both switchboards comes from various exchanges in Central Railway District.


First grant in 2017

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Since the beginning of the year we send 10 applications to various institutions in order to receive grants for future projects in Engine Shed. Their main purpose is to improve the state of the infrastructure of the Shed. There are first successes! On 10th February we were informed that City Council of Skierniewice will grant us a generous amount of 14 500 PLN for repairs of the most worn-out track sections. After completing the documentation, we hope to start the work in march! However, for that we still need 4000 PLN of initial capital, so please remember us when settling your tax report and assigning your 1% of income tax.


New board of PARE

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On Saturday, 10th December 2016 the 7th Main Assembly of PARE members took place. A part of this meeting was selection of new association authorities. According to the current law, new board will start its activities as soon as its members will be registered in National Judicial Registry, which was accomplished in mid-January 2017. At the same assembly, a new charter, agreed on Special Assemblies in January and May 2016, came into effect. The main areas of change in the charter is new terminology of association bodies and new rules of representing the PARE outside of the association.

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PARE board members:

  • Sylwester Pulik – president
  • Judyta Kurowska-Ciechańska – vice-president
  • Sławomir Sidor – vice-president
  • Arkadiusz Baraniok, Andrzej Paszke – membres

Main audit board:

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  • Maciej Michalik, Daniel Kiper, Paweł Adamowicz, Tadeusz Suchorolski – members

Association court:

  • Maciej Wolfram – head of court
  • Małgorzata Kurowska, Mariusz Smolarek – members

Recollection of Paulina Sasin

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Paulina Sasin was born on 2nd December 1992. She grew up and studied in Białystok and despite her young age she was a recognizable person in this town. She was a very active member and key person of many non-profit organizations among which a worth noting is the local branch of The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity and affiliated Associatin for Improving the World. Paulina was sensitive not only to the fate of people but also this of animals – she was a key member of “Wegestok”, a local branch of Foundation “Viva! Action for Animals”. In last years, she visited also the Engine Shed in Skierniewice, to which she devoted much of her work and hearth – no matter, if she was engaged in renovation works or was organizing activities for children during open days. During the last meeting with one of PARE members, back in Białystok in December 2016, she was planning new activities for Children’s Day in 2017. Soon later we were shocked to learn about her death. Paulina passed away on 27th December 2016 at the age of 24. Today we would like to say goodbye to her with this recollection…

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Back in 2010 (or was it 2009?) we met for the first time. First warm days of the year forecast a good tourist season. The plans for the beginning were simple – a renovation of interiors of former dispatcher office, our current social area. Despite a long travel, Paula got to work immediately. With her persistence she made a bunch of guys in different age ashamed. Especially, we learned that she put lot of effort in everything she does despite the illness – diabetes. After dirty renovation works, Paula engaged into more artistic activities. The unique, colourful paintings on lockers in dressing room introduced a little unbridled change in the well ordered and grey world of railway. The smile was always on her face, each time she visited us and was glad to help. Volunteering, especially in railway fan organization, was not a common thing at that time so her devotion was very encouraging. We then learned that Engine Shed is one among countless initiatives in which she took part. Still her main area of activity was a home city of Białystok. The last time we met in Skierniewice was the Children’s Day in 2014, Paula’s favourite event when she organized activities for children.

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Later, a tight schedule prevented Paula to visit us. Engaged in plenty of non-profit activity she functioned outside of a slow pace of Shed’s life. We wish that we had the opportunity to met you more often during those last years. When we last met face to face, we said each other the ordinary “See you later”. We exchanged a couple of ideas on Facebook regarding a large mural and new paintings on the lockers. Some further plans right after New Year, but not now due to Christmas rush… Unfortunately, we will not accomplish those plans together. Death took her away to fast to even properly say good-bye.

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Paulina, thank you very much for those couple of years when with each visit you left a bit of your hearth and work at the Shed. Thank you and see you later…

 


Flat-tax payers, remember about us!

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The end of January is the time for tax settlement for flat-tax payers. Therefore, we would already like to remind you to support us with your 1% of income tax.

Why would you support our organisation in particular? Because we invest each received penny in saving the railway heritage and history, many times multiplying the received money by using it as initial capital for further grants. This way in 2016 we:

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  • received 28 424,13 PLN from 1% of income tax;
  • carried out roof repairs supported by grants from Ministry of Culture and Heritage (90 000PLN), Łódź Voivodeship Conservationist (25 000 PLN) and sponsorship of Bank Spółdzielczy from Skierniewice (3500 PLN);
  • started reconstruction of roundhouse’s skylight thanks to grant from Ministry of Culture (100 000 PLN) and sponsorship of Freightliner PL (more than 12 000 PLN).

Additionally, thanks to the money from 1% of income tax and support of National Heritage Board and City Council of Skierniewice we:

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  • carried out track works on the most worn-out sections;
  • organized four-part volunteer camp for all those who wanted to help us during summer holidays in upkeep of Engine Shed and rolling stock repair works;
  • organized technical workshops for youth;
  • continued renovation of rolling stock: beer refrigerator car and steam engine class Ol49-4.

What will we do with the support from 1% of income tax in 2017? Similarly to previous years, we will use it as initial capital for grants for buildings renovation, specifically to finish the roof repairs and skylight reconstruction on roundhouse. We also want to continue the work by the class Ol49-4 and beer reefer.

To support us, remember to put on your PIT tax form our id KRS 0000216091 and amount of support. On behalf of the saved railway heritage we would like to thank you even for the modest support.