Monday 13th August 2018

The pace of work and list of jobs to do seems to intensify whatever we do at the moment!

John Davis power washes FR 20's wheelsFR 20 was shunted out of the RSR’s running shed last Wednesday to enable the wheels to be power washed after having been coated with Jizer degreasing fluid. Although quite a time consuming process, the results so far have been heartening. The key issue was the need to avoid soaking those members who were also intent on removing components from the loco at the same time! John Davis is seen here with the power washer.

Alan Middleton dismantles pipework on FR 20Alan Middleton was one of those dodging the pressure washer to remove some pipework.

John Dixon panes new wood on one of GER No. 5's step boardsJohn Dixon spent some more time on repairs to the step boards on GER No. 5 and is seen here planing down the new wood inserts.

On Friday John Davis continued the task of needlegunning the inside of FR 20’s tender whilst Mike Rigg re-assembled the power washer which had done its best to shake itself to bits on Wednesday. Fred cleaning one of FR 20 injector steam valve handlesFred and Tim started the process of cleaning up the components removed from the loco before they are placed in store, with Fred here cleaning one of the injector steam valve handles.

New drain cock castings for FR 25Alan returned home from a short break away the previous weekend with a set of drain cock castings and coupling rod half bearing castings for FR 25 that he had picked up from Steve Andrews. Coupling rod half brasses for FR 25. Some old brasses also to be seen on the rightThese had been ordered by Bert Hitchen before his untimely death but we are now in a position to unite them with the loco.

FR 25's safety valvesFurther to this, Tim paid a visit to Crewe on Thursday to pick up the two safety valves for FR 25 from L&NWR where they had been found sitting on the shelves in the store. They were certainly too heavy for the luggage rack on the train journey home!

New rivets on Wootton Hall's tender framesAlso last Thursday, Keith, John Dixon and Matt Gervis had a productive day fitting more rivets on Wootton Hall’s tender frames.New rivets on Wootton Hall's tender drag box

Over at Embsay, Keith was on hand last Tuesday when 5643’s boiler was hydraulically tested to the satisfaction of the boiler surveyor after re-tubing and the fitting of some new patch screws. This opened the way for the re-assembly of the loco and a new brick arch was fitted on Saturday with further work programmed for yesterday.

Cumbria is still causing issues with the regulator continuing to pass steam when shut. This has caused an immense amount of frustration and bafflement. A working party visit to Embsay is provisionally planned for this next Wednesday to try and identify the cause of the problem.

The next stage in the  process of dismantling FR 20 is the removal of the chimney, dome and spectacle plate. It is planned for it to visit the RSR’s workshop this Saturday so that the overhead crane can be used to remove these items.

Looking forward to next weekend, Alison has her first Cream Tea Special booked for Sunday, 19th. There are still some seats available, so look at the RSR web site for details. You should also be able to view progress on the new playground at Preston where work on the final earthworks are due to commence tomorrow.


Monday 6th August 2018

The blog may have been off line for a holiday break for a couple of weeks but there has been plenty happening in the meantime.

Fr 25's boiler is lifted into position on the FR bogie bolster 010818Headline news has been the arrival at Preston last Wednesday of FR 25’s boiler, albeit as a kit of parts. Tim received news by email of the need to move the boiler from Stockton whilst he was out of telephone contact on holiday in Cornwall. It took three journeys to the top of the local hill to get reception and organise the move, which was done with great help from Jacqueline at Northern Steam Engineering who made the arrangement for a hi-ab to transport the components as a crane could not be guaranteed to be present at Preston. In the end, the boiler was loaded a day early last Tuesday and so made an early arrival at Preston on the Wednesday morning. Fortunately, the former Furness Railway bogie bolster had already been shunted into position and the hi-ab departed back off to the north east at 10.45.

Other parts of the FR 25 boiler jigsawThe other components were placed in the car park and will need to be moved this next Wednesday.

FR line up at PrestonDuring the ensuing shunt moves there was a rare sight captured with FR 20, the FR bogie bolster and two boilers which have adorned ex Furness Railway locos.

Dropping FR 20's waterWork has started on the overhaul of FR 20, with the ceremonial draining of the water from the boiler on the Wednesday the 18th July.

John Davis needlegunning FR 20's tender 030818Last Friday Tim started the job of cleaning down the driving wheels and John Davis commenced the task of de-scaling the coal space in the tender.

Fred in FR 20's smokeboxFred also took the opportunity to reprise his role as principal cleaner of FR 20’s smokebox!

John Dixon repairing the steps on GER 5John Dixon has continued to undertake woodwork repairs to the Great Eastern Royal Saloon and is seen here repairing one of the step boards.

Keith fettling the hanging plates for Wootton Hall's tender 010818Keith has made more progress with Wootton Hall‘s tender and has been fettling up the recently shot blasted tender hanging plates.

Keith sizes up the repairs to Wootton Hall's tender framesThere has been more riveting of the tender frames and Keith is seen here pondering the next move in the restoration.

Cumbria has been out of traffic at Embsay recently owing to excessive amounts of from steam passing through the regulator when it was closed. Many people have looked to solve the problem and Andy Booth appears to have come up with a likely answer requiring a small modification. Things were looking much better yesterday and it is hoped that it will be back in traffic soon. It is also hoped to undertake a formal hydraulic on 5643 this week. Keith and Fred paid a further visit yesterday and Keith is scheduled to return to Embsay tomorrow (Tuesday) to start the process of re-assembly.

Work has started on the new RSR playground 010818

Elsewhere at the Ribble Steam Railway a start was made last Wednesday on fitting out the new children’s playground. Groundworks are scheduled to take place from next Monday.

Sentinel wrapThe RSR’s Sentinel 0-4-0 Enterprise, which is in the museum as part of the Sentinel display, has received a wrap depicting  events over the last 50 years.

Glasshoughton's boiler returns from LlangollenThe boiler for Hunslet 0-6-0ST Glasshoughton No. 4 arrived back from Llangollen last Wednesday.

Tim moonlighting with the trams 050818Finally, an impressive 100ft long model tram layout returned to the RSR this last weekend and Tim is seen here doing some moonlighting, driving trams in between driving the steam service yesterday!


Monday 16th July 2018

The shot blasters returned to Preston last Wednesday to clean off some original angle steel for Wootton Hall and also to make a good start on two cabs, the first of which belongs to Caliban. Adrian paints Caliban's cabAdrian can be seen here starting the process of applying red oxide to the cleaned up cab.Aunt SallyMeanwhile Alan seemed pleased with the results of the shotblasting.

Roger painting Caliban's cabFred and Roger finished the job on Friday, but not before the cab had unfortunately been sprayed with the first rain in weeks! Fred working on Caliban's cabThe shotblasters should be returning this Wednesday to tackle the cab roof and also another cab that does not belong to the FRT.

The Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon now has two coats of varnish on it as well as the initial coat of gold size. One of the next jobs to be undertaken will be the replacement of the canvas roof, which has been leaking for some time. Only then will it make sense for the upholstery to be tackled. In the meantime, John Dixon has been repairing more of the droplights.

With FR 20 now out of ticket, both Pauls and John Davis were engaged last Wednesday with the task of emptying the tender of coal, ready for the painting process to be commenced. It is planned to undertake an initial wash out of the boiler this next Wednesday.

Keith has been making more progress with Wootton Hall‘s tender frames, drilling holes to enable the front hornguides to be attached. The planned riveting exercise last Thursday didn’t materialise owing to Matt Gervis being under the weather.

Over at Embsay, Andy Booth has completed the re-tube of 5643 and also the fitting of eight more patch screws. It was planned yesterday to start the process of conducting a hydraulic test on the boiler after which the front end (superheaters and header etc) will need to be re-assembled. Re-tubing 5643 with the boiler still in the frames has been an extremely tricky task, the completion of which has apparently surprised the owners of other 56XX locos  who reckoned that it couldn’t be done with the boiler still in the frames.

Cumbria‘s regulator has been giving problems of late and, when removed, has shown signs of scoring. Fortunately, the FRT has a spare which was destined for FR 25 and this has been taken across to Embsay to see if it will effect an early return to traffic. New innards for the fireman’s side injector have also been purchased and sent across to Embsay.

Next week sees the start of the main school holidays so there will be a break in the publication of the blog whilst the team get some R&R. We will return in two weeks, unless something major needs reporting to you, in which case it’ll be sooner!

Monday 9th July 2018

FR20 heads to Strand Road
Photo by Ian Hardman

Sunday 8th July 2018 has been in our diaries for a long time, as it was scheduled to be the last day of FR 20’s boiler certificate before its 10 year boiler lift and overhaul. For that reason the loco was scheduled to operate the trains on the Ribble Steam Railway on both the Saturday and Sunday, with excellent weather to hand – well we had had plenty of time to put in the request for it!

The end is nigh - last day in serviceSaturday was a little quiet (something to do with a football game!), but plenty of people, including many members and friends, came along to say “Goodbye” on Sunday. Coincidentally, Neil was able to spend his first full day on the footplate at Preston that day as he looks to regain his fireman’s ticket – at least he had a loco that he knew from times past.

Back on shed - the end of a seond ten years certificateSadly, after handling the train service and rake of three coaches without fuss, FR 20 retired to the shed at the end of service on Sunday afternoon in steam for the last time for a while. As Tim put it at this point: “finish with engines”.  We know from the large amount interest on the internet that everyone is willing the FRT to get the loco back in traffic as soon as feasibly possible.

There has again been steady progress in the FRT shed at Preston. Tim has been applying more gold size and varnish to Great Eastern Royal Saloon No. 5 whilst John Dixon and Mike have been undertaking repairs to droplights. John Dixon repairing one of GER No. 5's droplightsJohn is seen here cleaning out a droplight sill prior to reassembling it. Roger has started the job of sanding down and priming parts of the buffers and couplings.

With the weather far too hot to progress the painting of the exterior of the mess room, John Davis and Paul Newton undertook their own version of Scrapheap Challenge amongst the various paraphernalia near the FRT shed and found the remains of an L&NWR bench seat, which they are now interested in restoring.

Fred cleaning up 5643's regulator quadrantKeith has brought back some of 5643’s components from Embsay for fettling and Fred is seen here on Friday cleaning up the regulator quadrant. Keith was due to go over to Embsay on Sunday as he looks to get 5643 back in steam as quickly as possible.

Keith setting up the axleboxes in Wootton Hall's tender framesIn the meantime, Keith has been lining up Wootton Hall‘s tender axleboxes with the overhauled tender frames, seen here at work. A further riveting session is planned for Thursday.

Finally, for those of you who are wondering where latest edition of members’ magazine The Iron Horse has got to, we can tell you that Alan is currently sorting out the layout and choosing the photos in readiness for it to go to the printer.

Monday 2nd July 2018

Well the heat is definitely on, in more ways than usual, as we tackle the queue of jobs that we have at the moment.

The work on Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5 is proceeding at a steady pace as John Dixon fills the cracks in the teak panels and Tim applies more gold size and varnish.

Alan Ogden with the switch boxAlan Ogden has once again been tackling the instruments and smaller electrical items on Fluff and is seen here with a refurbished switch box.Fluff's refurbished electric switch box

At last, it came freeAde, Alan and Howard have been hard at it in their efforts to remove the final spring hanger pin on Caliban‘s frames. Suffice to say that plan Z didn’t produce immediate results, but lots of sweat and toil were duly expended and victory was eventually achieved.

Neat rivets on Wootton Hall's tender framesIt is pleasing to be able to report that the riveting session on Wootton Hall the previous Thursday had seen approximately 50 rivets installed, and evidence of a neat job is seen in this photo of a newly riveted bracket on the front portion of the frames.

Tender steps backing plates for Wootton hallBacking plates for the tender cab steps have also been bent to shape.

Front plate for Wootton HallAnd a newly fabricated and shaped plate is seen here on the frames in front of the boiler.

With all this progress being made on the project, Keith has, at not inconsiderable expense, now placed an order for two new live steam injectors for Wootton Hall with South Coast Steam of Portland, Dorset.

Alan Middleton has also been in touch with South Coast Steam, in this case to order new injector components for Cumbria‘s left hand injector to replace items which had become badly worn.

Last week’s AGM was unusually chaired by Neil in the absence of Tim, who was elsewhere to see son Matthew passed out as a Police Cadet. The meeting passed smoothly although took four minutes longer than the previous year – must have been something to do with Tim’s lengthy written report!

Railway band in a bus stationAlan, Tim and Pete Skellon successfully made it to the Bolton Station Community Gala on Saturday and, would you believe it, played railway songs in the bus interchange for half an hour! Must have been rail replacement songs! Both Alan and Pete had been disorganised in forgetting to take their mobile phones with them, but between you and us Alan also forgot to take a set of teeth – but we won’t tell anyone, will we?

Finally, FR 20 makes its last public appearance in steam at the Ribble Steam Railway this next Saturday and Sunday before its ten year boiler overhaul.

Monday 25th June 2018

Well, would you believe it? We’re half way already from last Christmas to the next! And, yes, we’ve mentioned the ‘C’ word this year in record early time!!

It has been very much a case of more of the same in terms of work at Preston this week.

Ade still trying to remove that spring hanger pinAde failed to score with Caliban‘s last spring hanger pin last Wednesday and is now looking for a plan Z for this week. We will, as ever, keep you posted.

John Dixon repairing a door on GER 5There is more varnish on GER No. 5 with still plenty more to apply once John Dixon has finished filling in all the remaining cracks in the woodwork. Meanwhile Mike and Paul Newton have been working on a plan to create a replica works plate for Rachel, Ken Nuttall’s petrol Simplex at Haverthwaite, for Roger who has been working on it for some time now.

John Davis has been back on the roof of the mess room with yet more paint and it is hoped to move down to the sides in the not too distant future, Fred having given them a good clean.

A last reminder that the AGM will be held in the shed at Preston tomorrow (Tuesday) evening at 19.30. Alison promises some home baking, so those attending please make sure you leave some room when having tea.

Finally, Alan, Tim and Pete, otherwise known as Live Steam, have been booked to appear on stage at the Bolton Station Community Rail Day next Saturday, provisionally from 3 pm until 4 pm, with their repertoire of railway songs.

Monday 18th June 2018

There’s plenty more progress to report at Preston this week.

Mike Rigg repairing a window frame from GER 5John Dixon has been moving around the Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5 filling in cracks on the teak panels whilst Mike Rigg has repaired one of the window frames.GER 5 with a coat of varnish on the north sideTim has continued the task of applying gold size and a first coat of varnish, which has been completed on the north side and east end.

Ade drilling that stubborn pinAdrian spent Wednesday trying to drill out the last remaining spring hanger pin on Caliban, but to no avail so far. So plan B is for next Wednesday, although Ade hasn’t yet told us what that may be.Howard and David with a spring hanger screw to removeHoward has been trying to release the retaining screws on top of the spring hangers and he is seen here with David applying plenty of pressure on a stubborn screw.

Keith drilling Wootton Halls tender framesMeanwhile Keith has been doing some more drilling on Wootton Hall‘s tender frames and is expecting Matt Gervis to appear on Thursday to start fitting some rivets. The NDT man is also expected this week to test the tender axles.

John Davis painting the mess room roofOutside the shed John Davis has been painting the mess room roof and, with the assistance of Fred, the outside is looking much cleaner in readiness for painting.

Owd Sue before breaking downA 1949 Duple bodied Bedford made an appearance for the RSR’s Beer and Cider Festival over the weekend, but unfortunately Owd Sue, as she is known, succumbed fairy early in the proceedings owing to the failure of a lift pump. A replacement bus was supplied very promptly by Coastal Coaches.

Alison with a cream teaFinally, we include a photo taken on the 27th May of Alison with one of her cream teas.

Wednesday 13th June 2018

First of all, sorry that we are a couple of days late this week, due to the overloaded diaries of the blog team. Apologies…

Following on from the announcement in last week’s blog of the sad passing of Chris Mills, we can now confirm that Chris’s funeral will be held at Preston Crematorium at 11.30 next Monday, 18th June. This will be followed in the early afternoon by a gathering at the Ribble Steam Railway where light refreshments will be available.

Ade and David Starkie attach a spring hanger pin on Caliban's framesIn the workshop there was a marked step forward on the (not so) mini project to remove the remaining extremely stubborn spring hanger pins from Caliban‘s frames. A further four pins were removed with the aid of an air powered hammer. Ade and David Starkie are seen here in action. Unfortunately, the air compressor sprang an oil leak and one pin, which has so far shown not one iota of movement, is still left to be extracted.

Gold size applied to the upper panels of GER No.5Sanding of the exterior woodwork of the Royal Saloon GER No. 5 has been completed and John Dixon is working his way around the coach with the wood filler. Tim has therefore been able to start the process of applying gold size, the effect of which can be seen by the accompanying photo, where the upper panels have received the gold size. Almost the whole of the north side of the vehicle has now been treated and more progress is anticipated this next week.

Paul Newton cleans the mess room roof watched by John DavisOutside the shed, there has been good progress on preparing the exterior of the mess room for painting. Fred had started the job the previous week and Paul Newton and John Davis are seen here on the roof applying the full force of the power washer. More red oxide on the exterior had appeared by the weekend and it is hoped to be able to continue this progress whilst the weather holds fair.

A further visit was made to Carnforth on Thursday by Alan, Keith and John Dixon to gather together the remaining small components that could be transported back to Preston with the RSR’s pick up. The next stage is to arrange a crane and lorry to transport the frames, wheels and tank.

The blog team received some “earache” for not mentioning last week the successful trial of Alison’s cream teas in the former FRT buffet car on the Bank Holiday Sunday. Assisted by Matt Bedford, the teas provided to the “guinea pigs” received the thumbs up and so a public launch is now planned for Sunday, 19th August. Well done, Alison.

The ten year boiler certificate for Furness Railway No. 20 expires on the 8th July and so it is planned to have a “last hurrah” for the loco at the RSR on the 7th and 8th July. Then it will be a case of stripping it down for overhaul in the FRT shed. Plenty there to keep us busy over the autumn and winter months.

And finally, a reminder that the RSR is holding its first Beer and Cider Festival this weekend complete with Classic Cars in attendance and a vintage bus service from Preston station. Late trains will be running on Saturday evening.

Monday 4th June 2018

We start this week’s blog with the sad news that Chris Mills, a long standing director of the Ribble Steam Railway, who also joined the FRT in recent years, passed away yesterday morning after a long and determined fight against illness. Chris, despite his health problems, remained a larger than life character who took on the duties of membership administration when Peter Sinclair retired in addition to his role as editor of The Ribble Pilot and administrator of the RSR’s web site. Chris was also in close touch with the media and arranged advertising for special events. He will be very much missed at Preston and our thoughts go out to his wife, Sonja, and Chris’s family.

FR20 on its first day back in action at the RSRFurness Railway No. 20 made a return to steam at the RSR over the Bank Holiday weekend, operating successfully over the Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The tender had been lowered back on to its rear wheelset the previous Wednesday after attention to the rear right axlebox. We are pleased to report that the axlebox showed a significant improvement in performance and, whilst still warming up over a period of time, was nothing like as bad as had been experienced at Shildon during FR 20’s latter steamings there. No doubt the axlebox will get further attention during the locomotive’s forthcoming overhaul.

A Facebook Live was filmed on the footplate of FR 20 that day, which was broadcast “live” on our Facebook page, to record the complete run along the length of the RSR. This has proved to be extremely popular – it’s been shared 90 times and been seen by more than 6000 people. If you haven’t watched it yet, it’s here..

News of the generous donation of former Furness Railway No. 25 aka Barrow Haematite Steel Company No. 17 to the FRT by the Executors of the late Bert Hitchen’s estate is now in the public arena and we have had a very positive reaction. Both Steam Railway and Railway Magazine sent their congratulations and the view that the FRT was the right and proper custodian of this locomotive, and similar views have been expressed over on our Facebook page.

Visits have been made to Carnforth by Alan, Keith and John Dixon over the last two Thursdays in order to retrieve the smaller components of 25/17. A further visit is planned for this next Thursday after which a plan will made to bring the frames, cab and wheels to Preston.

John Davis and Paul Newton at work on GER No. 5

Work has continued on the FRT’s projects, including the sanding down of Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5. John Davis and Paul Newton are seen here hard at work.

We conclude by having to report that the end may well be nigh for FRT Campervan No.1 which, as we reported a  few weeks ago, suffered a clutch failure on the A66 whilst returning from Shildon. Unfortunately, it also suffered a more terminal brake failure whilst being manoeuvred at the garage, where it had been towed for repair. It appears that it came off worse when the front of it ran into a wall! Still, Alan reckons that he got his money’s worth out of it over the last nine years.

Monday 21st May 2018

Ade, John Dixon and Alan with one of FR20's axleboxesAs mentioned in last week’s blog, the main task at this last Wednesday’s working party was the jacking up of FR 20’s tender to attend to an axlebox which had been showing signs of warming up during the latter days of its operation at Locomotion, Shildon. Once the axlebox had been dismantled it became clear that both the bearing and the journal had, for some reason, become scored. Also, the bearing had become too good a fit, not enabling oil to circulate and lubricate the interface between bearing and journal.

Tim set to and did his best to take out the roughened surface on the journal by the painstaking method of applying varying grades of abrasives, with John Dixon carrying on the task on Friday. Alan attends to the axlebox bearingAlan, meanwhile, took the bearing aside to remove some of the brass in order to give some more lead towards the top of the bearing, so allowing more oil to circulate. Alan tests the surface of the bearing with engineer's blueThe oil pad showed signs of wear to the rivets, which suggested that these had come into contact with the journal. Some horsehair was retrieved from store with a view to substituting this instead of the oil pad when the axlebox is reassembled. The engine, incidentally, already has horsehair in its axleboxes and this seems to have worked well in the past. All being well, FR 20’s tender will be back on its feet on Wednesday and it is proposed that it will be in service on the RSR over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Howard trys to free off another spring hangerWork also progressed on Caliban where a further spring hanger has been freed off, much against its will. Only another five to go! Howard is seen here tackling the next one.

More new metal in Wootton Hall's tender framesKeith has been making the most of his retirement, as can be seen from this photo of new steelwork between Wootton Hall‘s tender frames.

John Davis, assisted on Friday by Mike Rigg (taking a break from his holidays!) has continued the long task of sanding down the Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon. Well done John!

Finally, we have positive news from Embsay in that Cumbria has passed its steam test in the presence of the boiler surveyor and, after a change of brake blocks, should be back in service this next weekend.