Monday 23rd November 2020

Following last week’s action packed blog, this week’s rendition is somewhat of a postscript.

As readers will recall, Furness Railway No. 20’s boiler passed its out of frames steam test last Monday. During the course of that day it was apparent that there would be a small window of opportunity to unite the boiler with the loco’s frames using the RSR’s overhead crane two days later on Wednesday. This would be a win-win deal as the lowmac on which FR 20’s boiler was resting could then be used straight away for Walkden‘s boiler. The following photos tell the tale:

FR 20's chassis is shunted around to the RSR workshopThe first job was to empty the RSR’s shed road and then for Sentinel Progress to bring FR 20’s frames around from the FRT shed.

The pit area being cleaned in the FRT shedThis, incidentally, left the FRT’s pit entirely clear for a clean up to commence.

FR 20's boiler hangs above the framesWith Ade as banksman, the boiler was lifted off the lowmac and is seen hanging above the frames in the RSR workshop.

The boiler being lowered into the framesAfter some tweaking of the front right bottom of the smokebox, which had splayed out very slightly, the boiler was successfully reunited with the frames.

The chimney is lowered into placeAn added bonus was the chance to re-fit the chimney which Keith had thoughtfully extracted from the depths of the FRT shed.

FR 20 waits to be shuntedThe new combo was then shunted outside ready for despatch to the FRT shed.

Progress shunting FR 20's engine back to the FRT shedProgress again did the honours.

FR 20 back homeFR 20 was duly parked back in the FRT shed before 15.00 and, with assistance from Ade and Tim, Walkden‘s boiler was put in place on the lowmac ready for its own journey towards hydraulic and steam tests.

Finally, in other news, Cumbria has undertaken a pre-Santa test train at Embsay and Keith has been to Bury last Thursday and also today to assist with 5643’s preparation for service there.

Tuesday 17th November 2020

It has been another hectic week at Preston.

There was an urgent need to put GWR 0-6-0T No. 5643 back together in time for yesterday, Monday, when a Reid Freight transporter was due to take it to Bury for a period of hire to the East Lancashire Railway.

Phil inspects the brake turnbuckle on 5643The re-assembly of the brake gear was finally completed and Phil Bell is seen here giving the turnbuckle an inspection.

Keith fastens the right hand valve cover on 5643Keith assembled the front right hand valve cladding.

Keith fitting the new cab floor in 5643He then tackled the installation of the new cab floor

Paul Newton cleans some of 5643's copper pipeworkPaul Newton cleaned the copper pipework.

Phil touches up the black paintwork on 5643's brass numberplatesPhil Bell then touched up the black paint on the brass numberplates.

Finally, Keith put back the cab fittings which had been removed to allow the fitting of three new stays. All that was necessary now was to oil around and assist Adrian in shunting the locomotive to the front of the FRT shed. 5643 being loaded5643 was moved around to the unloading road on Monday morning ready for loading on to the transporter, which arrived just after 10.30.

5643 ready for the roadA couple of hours later 5643 was ready for the road, but shortly before departure a consignment of castings arrived from the Severn Valley Railway, and it was possible to load 5643’s new replacement brake blocks on to the well of the transporter. They call it ‘just in time’ in industry, but this was rather close to call!

Time then to turn attention to Furness Railway No. 20’s boiler. A test steaming had taken place last Wednesday which was satisfactory apart from the fact that some priming out of the safety valves took place because the boiler was tilted forward on the lowmac.

The alignment of the boiler was corrected last Friday, but this meant that the safety valves could only be erected after the boiler had left the running shed on the day of the steaming for the boiler surveyor in order to avoid a conflict with the shed door! Ade feeding FR 20's firebox during the test steaming on Wednesday, 11th.Adrian duly left his bed well before daylight yesterday to arrive at Preston at 07.10 to draw the boiler out of the shed and to light the fire.

Alan at workAlan, John Dixon, and Sam Crawley duly appeared to assist which mostly consisting of breaking up wood from the RSR’s huge wood pile in order to feed FR 20’s voracious firebox.

Blowing off for the boiler surveyorWe are pleased to be able to report that 120 psi was achieved just before 2 pm and in good time for boiler surveyor to conduct his inspection…. Alan Bennett inspects the firebox on FR 20's boilerbefore giving it the thumbs up.

Alan Bennett, Adrian Tomkinson, Alan Middleton, Sam Crawley and John Dixon smiling behind their masks after a successful testThe gang is seen here in celebratory move with Alan Bennett.

Amongst the castings received from the Severn Valley Railway was a new vacuum cylinder for Wootton Hall’s tender which will now need to be machined.

Finally, there has been good news from Embsay today in that Cumbria passed its annual steam test for the boiler surveyor.

Tonight the Trustees are meeting virtually by Zoom. The biggest issue will be how to devour Alison’s virtual sandwiches!

Monday 9th November 2020

FR 20's boiler ready for a fire to be litFR 20’s boiler is now ready for a fire to be lit after more preparatory work was carried out on it last week in the RSR running shed. The valves were lapped in after the seats had been re-fitted  on to the dome. This took quite some time, but patience is a virtue when working on steam locomotives! The fitting of the gauge glasses, pressure gauge and safety valve springs followed along with a minor  adjustment to one of the firebars (it conflicted with one of the new patch screws) and it is intended to light a fire this next Wednesday.

John Dixon removing the screws holding the numbers on FR 20's buffer beamBack in the FRT shed, John Dixon painstakingly removed the screws holding the brass numbers on the front buffer beams; these hadn’t been moved for over twenty years so it provided quite a challenge.

Paintwork ready for a refreshHowever, the front buffer beam was finally ready for Tim to start a refresh of the paintwork.

FR 20's valances primedThe valances have now been primed following the removal of the old paint.

John Davis drilling holes in FluffWork continued on Fluff with John Davis drilling holes in a new cab sheet to accommodate the re-used angle support.

The wood for 5643's new cab floorThe wood for 5643’s new cab floor arrived last Wednesday and RSR’s joiner, John Morgan, kindly came in on Saturday to plane and cut it to size.John Morgan planing the new wood for 5643's cab floor

With the locomotive due to leave Preston shortly, it was all hands to the pump to re-fit the brake gear and also the new brake blocks that Keith had picked up from the East Lancashire Railway at Bury. Keith fitting one of the last bolts to 5643's brake gearKeith is seen here under the loco fitting one of the last bolts to the brake gear.

Work to fit three new firebox stays is due to take place tomorrow (Tuesday) after which it will be necessary to re-fit various cab fittings as well as the new floor. There is certainly no shortage of work to do at the moment!

The new valve liners for Wootton HallThere has also been a bit of progress to report with Wootton Hall where the new (shrink wrapped) replacement valve liners have finally arrived after having been delayed by the pandemic. The liners will need to be machined and then, themselves, shrink fitted when ready.

Finally, there has been good news from Embsay in that the FRT’s Hunslet 0-6-0ST Cumbria passed its cold boiler exam today.

Monday 2nd November 2020

Ade with a boiler support trestleWork has continued on the overhaul of Furness Railway No. 20 where preparations are being made for an out-of-frames steaming of the boiler on the 16th November. In deference to the fact that the boiler is sitting on Dave Watkins’ lowmac, we will be doing our best not to set fire to its wooden decking! The first stage to protect it was to remove the wooden packing beneath the firebox (old sleepers) and replace it with a purpose built steel trestle. “A ten minute job,” said an optimistic Adrian as he rolled up with the new trestle, but if truth be told it took a good 25 minutes for Ade, John and Tim to jack up the boiler and fit the new trestle into position, exerting a fair amount of ‘grunt’ along the way.The boiler on its new support

John Dixon's line up of nuts and bolts for FR 20John Dixon has continued his work in preparing new and second hand dome headed bolts for fitting to FR 20’s chimney, smokebox and frames. The are seen here neatly painted and laid out ready for action.

Alan polishing his ringAlan, meanwhile, has been applying some emery paper to clean up the recently machined valve seats.

Fred self isolatingWork on refurbishing the dome cover has also progressed, with Fred seen here finding a great way to self-isolate whilst cleaning the internal surfaces!

Keith cleaning the firehole door support for 5643Keith, continuing his work on 5643, is seen here undertaking the less glamorous job of de-crudding the firehole door support. Keith has also been working with Andy Booth to identify any suspect stays that can be replaced whilst the loco is sidelined for maintenance.

Fluff's new front cab sheetsFinally, we must not forget the continuing efforts to rejuvenate Fluff where Phil and John Davis have fitted the new front cab sheets this week.

The latest Lockdown restrictions, which come into force on Thursday, do not preclude people from volunteering. It is expected therefore that some essential work will continue during the lockdown period. Details will be briefed at the Wednesday working party.

Monday 26th October 2020

Ade at the controls of ProgressLast Wednesday saw the successful transfer of FR 20’s boiler from the FRT shed to the RSR running shed where it can be steamed for the boiler surveyor. Both Keith and Ade were assisting Ribble Rail last week and we see Ade here at the controls of Ribble Railway’s Sentinel Progress during the shunt.

Keith taking a ride on Fluff as it is shuntedFluff had to be moved out of the way and is seen here being shunted with Keith on board.

FR 20's boiler being moved to the west of the siteThe boiler was then released and moved to the west of the site.

Alan on top of FR 20's boilerAlan is seen here preparing the dome to receive the valve seats after machining.

John Dixon cleaning the base of FR 20's chimneyBack inside the FRT shed John Dixon has been cleaning and painting the base of FR 20’s chimney.

John Dixon making new domed smokebox retaining bolts for FR 20John then set about making new domed bolts that will secure the smokebox to the frames.

Fred removing paint from FR 20's left hand valanceFred has now finished cleaning old paint from the engine’s valances.

FR 20's dome cover being prepared for painting.Tim has been busy hand-sanding the dome cover ready for painting.

John Davis painting Fluff's cab spectacle plateThere has been more work on Fluff including work by John Davis to prime the front cab spectacle plate.

Cumbria' re-painted rear buffer beamOver at Embsay work has been taking place on the FRT’s ‘Austerity’
0-6-0ST Cumbria in readiness for its 14 month cold boiler inspection which has been brought forward to the 9th November. This is to enable the loco to operate the planned Santa Special programme of trains there. The rear buffer beam has been re-painted.

Cumbria being readied for SantaA similar refresh is seen here being carried out on the front buffer beam.

Finally, a couple of our volunteers have recently sought guidance about travelling to Preston to volunteer during the operation of the three tier Covid-19 restrictions. Recent Government advice supports voluntary work such as that carried out by FRT members and the following extracts are shown for peace of mind:

“At all three alert levels whilst providing voluntary services:
you are exempt from social gathering restrictions;
you can travel within and between different local COVID alert level areas to volunteer.”

The full advice on volunteering can be found here.

Monday 19th October 2020

The welcome news that FR 20 had passed its hydraulic test has turned thoughts as to the practicalities of conducting a steam test out of the frames. It is hoped that the boiler will be shunted around to the RSR running shed sometime this week in exchange for a brake van. Ade with the 4WD fork liftThis is all subject to the availability of Ade who is assisting Ribble Rail this week. Ade is pictured here trying his hand last week with the RSR’s recently acquired four wheel drive fork truck.

John re-fitting FR 20's smokebox lamp bracketWork has continued on some of the smaller jobs on FR 20. Tim has finished painting the modified spring hangers and has also done some careful refurbishment and priming of the tender buffer beam so as to retain appropriate signs of age and work use.  John Dixon has straightened up the smokebox lamp bracket.

John painting the bottom of FR 20's ashpanJohn then set about giving the bottom of the ashpan a much-needed clean and paint.

Keith cutting yet more metal from Wootton Hall's tender tankKeith has taken advantage of some better weather to cut some more metal from Wootton Hall‘s tender tank.

Phil Bell and John Davis painting more new steelwork for FluffPaul Balshaw has continued buffing up 5643’s rods whilst Phil and John Davis have been busy painting new steelwork for Fluff.

Paul Newton painting the bench seat slatsFinally, Paul Newton has at last managed to put some gloss paint on the slats for the formerly derelict platform seat.

Monday 12th October 2020

Keith grinding his ringThe cleaning work inside and outside the frames of 5643 has been completed which has allowed work to focus on the valves and pistons. Both pistons have now been split from their respective crossheads and examined by Keith who determined that new piston rings were required. Keith is seen here dressing off one of the rings prior to fitting.

George at work on 5643The heavy work involved in releasing and re-installing the pistons required additional assistance which was provided by George, who came up from Derby on two occasions over the past couple of weeks, however, both pistons are now back in place and connected to the crossheads.

Fred and John clean up after another of Fred's wire brushing sessionsWork on cleaning up and repainting the cab floor steelwork continues which is Fred’s forte. Fred and John Dixon are seen cleaning up outside the shed on Friday after Fred’s latest work which saw off yet another cup wire brush.

Phil Bell and John Davis with more steelwork for FluffThe end of the main thrust of cleaning on 5643 has enabled Phil, John Davis and Paul to return to the overhaul of Fluff. Phil and John are seen here with yet another new sheet of steel.

Ed and his spruced up gardenWe were pleased to see the return of Ed after a short spell in works. He spent a very busy day tidying up the garden area and cutting back undergrowth that was coming through the adjacent fence.

The remainder of the volunteer workforce has generally been engaged on progressing the overhaul of FR 20. We are very pleased to be able to inform you that the boiler passed its hydraulic test today, so well done to all concerned. However, the current procedures now require that the boiler is steam tested out of the frames so that will be the next milestone to achieve.

Alan preparing a new joint ringMeanwhile, Alan has cut two new joint rings for the cylinder covers which have been carefully fitted.Fitting the new ring

Alan and Ade attempting to re-fit the LH cylinder cover on FR 20Alan and Ade then spent most of last Wednesday struggling to fit the left hand cylinder cover, finally succeeding after discovering that one of the studs hadn’t been properly screwed in and was not square with the rest.

The new springs fitted to FR 20We are pleased to report that, after much fine tuning, the new springs are now in place.

John Dixon warming up the bulgeThe annoying slight bulge towards the front of the right hand valance has been removed with the aid of some carefully applied heat and the use of a clamp to straighten the metal.

John Dixon painting FR 20's ashpanFinally, the ashpan has been cleaned, painted and the ejector ring repaired and re-fitted by John Dixon.

Ade playing with his nutsFinally, Ade has also spent some time freeing off and adjusting the nuts on Caliban‘s brake rods. Incidentally, contrary to what you might think from the photo, we can confirm that Ade has now had his post lockdown haircut!

Monday 28th September 2020

Keith measures one of 5643's valvesThe maintenance work on 5643 has continued with the valves now removed for cleaning. Keith has been measuring them to ensure that they are still a good fit with the valve liners.

Phil Bell reaching into the voids that are 5643's motionElsewhere the less glamorous work of cleaning has made more headway with Phil Bell trying to get to the far distant parts in the motion.

John Davis cleaning 5643John Davis also found himself doing some cleaning, probably wishing he hadn’t chosen to wear such a light-coloured T shirt!

Keith and Phil Bell preparing to cut new steel for FluffWhilst Fluff has temporarily been banished to the unheated part of the FRT shed during 5643’s stay, the little diesel hasn’t been forgotten and Keith and Phil are seen preparing to cut a new piece of steel to replace this old rather moth-eaten relic.

John Dixon cleaning up FR 20's ashpanThe weather last Friday was pretty good so John Dixon took the opportunity to clean out FR 20’s ashpan prior to giving it a new coat of paint.

Fred cleaning paint from Fr 20's right hand valanceFred came in on Friday again wielding his trusty angle grinder with cup wire brush. This time he joined Tim in removing old brittle paint from FR 20’s right hand valance.

Ade, Keith and Tim had the chance on Saturday to reacquaint themselves with the controls of steam locomotive Courageous as the Ribble Steam Railway ran some proving trains which were also used to recertify train crew in anticipation of operating some train services in October. The day also saw the introduction of temperature testing of volunteers in order to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19. There was general approval of this initiative by FRT volunteers last Friday and so the FRT has acquired a similar testing device which will be brought into use this week.

Monday 21st September 2020

Ade getting up pressure on FR 20's boilerAlan and Ade conducted a further hydraulic test on FR 20’s boiler on Wednesday after successfully making a new dome cover joint last week and Ade can be seen here working up some pressure. A formal test for the boiler surveyor has been booked for the 12th October.

John Dixon with his die nutJohn Dixon finished finding or making the new studs for FR 20’s steam and blast pipes and had them fitted on Wednesday. He is seen here applying a die nut to one of the studs.

Matthew and John Dixon fit one of FR 20's new springsFriday saw young Matthew join the gang having started a fabrication and welding course at college. He was quickly put to good use operating the hoist to lift one of the new engine springs into position for another test fit.

Keith removes a valve cover on 5643Keith has removed 5643’s valve and cylinder covers as he starts the valve and piston examination.5643's valves and pistons exposed

Fred painting some of 5643's cab floor metalworkFinally, Fred was with us on Friday to continue his work cleaning up and painting the cab floor metalwork.

Monday 14th September 2020

First of all we can report that the Annual General Meeting successfully took place last Tuesday evening with the participants able to attend from the comfort of their homes using Zoom technology. The essential business was conducted without fuss in a record time of 20 minutes and the draft minutes produced before bedtime! Thanks go to all of you who attended.

Ade and Alan preparing a new dome cover jointAlan and Ade removed the dome cover from FR 20’s boiler with the assistance of Ribble Rail staff and the hi-ab. They then prepared a new joint before the dome cover was replaced and fastened down.

John Dixon drilling out steam pipe studsJohn Dixon continued and completed his work drilling out wasted or broken studs which secure the blastpipe and main steam pipe.

Caliban's valve spindlesAlan had picked up Caliban‘s valve spindles from IRS Surfacing Technologies at Burscough. They had been metal sprayed to counter corrosion and then ground back to size. From the finished job they looked brand new.

Paul Balshaw cleaning 5643's rodsThere has been more attention given to 5643 with Paul Balshaw cleaning up the rods.

Phil Bell cleaning below 5643's cab floorPhil Bell focussed his attention beneath the cab floor, which has been removed to allow access.

Fred cleaning up 5643's cab floor steelworkFred came in on Friday to clean up some of the cab floor steelwork

John Dixon with yet another job to completeKeith has given John Dixon the job of refurbishing a second-hand GWR cab seat and then creating another for Wootton Hall.

Spaced out at lunch Lunchtimes these days are a little strange with members spacing themselves out either in the mess room or the shed. Here we see John Davis, Paul Newton and Phil Bell suitably socially distanced (no, we didn’t say spaced out!).