Monday 14th January 2019

The newly riveted front left tender stepsWe start with the news that a milestone in the restoration of the FRT’s ‘Hall’ class 4-6-0 locomotive No. 4979 Wootton Hall was reached on Thursday when the riveting gang fitted the last rivet to the re-built tender frames. The front of the tender frames had been severely wasted by years of water and coal dust which had cascaded down from the cab floor. As followers of this blog will know, the riveting team of Matt Jervis, Keith Brewer, John Dixon and Chris Rycroft have been meeting regularly on Thursdays over the last few months and have been responsible for completing the fitting of several hundred rivets which have locked together the new steelwork with the old. The final day saw 30 rivets fitted, which is quite an effort! Well done to all!

John Dixon with the gas torch heats up another rivetJohn is seen preparing the gas torch to heat up the rivets.

Keith holds the last hot rivet in placeKeith is pictured holding the final hot rivet in place.

Matt Jervis applies the riveting gun to the last rivetAnd Matt Jervis applies the force to finish the job.

Newly arrived tender tank for Wootton HallStaying with the Hall’s tender, and Alan Middleton is seen on Wednesday with the newly arrived second hand 4,000 gallon Collett tender tank recently arrived from Tyseley.

Keith Brewer stands in the new tankAs you will see here, it didn’t take long for Keith to set to with a cutting disc to remove the corroded shoveling plate. This will also enable scale to be removed from the tender tank.

Matt Bedford steam cleans a wheelset from FR 20's tenderOnto other projects, and the axleboxes have been removed from FR 20’s tender wheelsets and cleaned. The wheelsets have received some attention from scrapers to remove twenty years of grime and the first set is seen here being steam cleaned by Matt Bedford.

John Davis cuts one of FR 20's tubes in halfAndy Booth has completed the removal of the tubes from FR 20’s boiler and they were cut in half by John Davis before being placed in the scrap metal skip.

Fred and Keith with 5643 and Cumbria at EmbsayThere was a visit to Embsay on Saturday by Keith, Fred and Mike. Fred and Mike cleaned below the running plate on 5643 whilst Keith attacked the inside motion. Both 5643 and Cumbria were drawn outside the shed to allow the water to be drained from the boilers and for Cumbria’s spare springs to be loaded. Fred polishes 5643 at EmbsayThere was then time to polish up the bright work.

Cumbria is due to arrive back at Preston today (Monday) to enable repairs and servicing to take place before it goes back out on hire.

Finally, the trials and tribulations of the veteran Class 37 hauled services on the Furness and Cumbrian Coast Lines have been recorded here in past blogs. It is only fitting therefore that we leave you with a photo of the Class 37 Farewell Tour about to leave Carnforth on Friday on its return leg to Carlisle. 'Concrete Bob' at the head of the return leg of the Class 37 Farewell Tour This marked the end of regular loco-hauled  services along the Cumbrian Coast. The Class 37 diagrams are now covered by Class 156 diesel multiple units, themselves now around thirty years old.

Tuesday 8th January 2019

A belated Happy New Year to all our readers!

Yes, the blog has taken quite a long break since its last publication on the 17th December. But that does not mean that the Trust’s volunteers have been idle over the Festive period – in fact nothing could be further from the truth as you will see…

Alan prising off the right hand cylinder cover on FR 20Work has continued apace on the overhaul of FR 20, with Alan seen here prising off the front right hand cylinder cover. Both covers were removed with assistance from Ade and, at first sight, it looks as if new pistons rings will be required. Tim has since located the spare set that was ordered over twenty years ago.

FR 20's wheels in primerCleaning and painting of the engine’s wheels has also continued with a primer/undercoat of red oxide being visible here.

John Dixon cleans oil and grease from FR 20's toolboxJohn Dixon has been cleaning up the toolbox that is usually located on the running board to the right of the smoke box.

Adrian tows FR 20's tender to the loading road with StanlowThe decision was taken to lift the tender to get the axle journals skimmed and polished as these had given some problems in times past. Ade is seen here moving the tender to the unloading road after a massive shunt on the 2nd January. Well done Ade!

John Davis and Mike Rigg working on FluffWork has also continued on cleaning up Fluff‘s frames and bodywork over the Christmas period and John Davis is seen here at work with Mike Rigg.

Collett style cab styleKeith has, as ever, been working on Wootton Hall and the left hand ‘Collett style’ cab side is seen here mounted temporarily.

New Year's Eve and Live SteamAfter eight days of playing Christmas songs on the RSR’s Santa Specials before Christmas you would have thought that Alan and Tim would have wanted a rest, but they are seen here with George and Pete performing a successful Live Steam gig at the Engine Inn at Cark-in-Cartmel on New Year’s Eve.

Jim Kennedy undertakes the NDT examination of FR 20's boilerFriday, 4th January brought the good news that FR 20’s boiler and the three Hall tender wheelsets had passed Jim Kennedy’s NDT examination. Jim is seen here at work on the boiler.

And so to yesterday, Monday, 7th January. A crane was at the gate at 09.00 signalling a long day of work at Preston for the team. The first job was to lift FR 20’s tender to release the wheelsets for machining in February. The tender body has, in the meantime, been situated on blocks in the RSR’s car park.

Keith looks on as John Dixon cleans FR 20's tender axlebox lids in the new cleaning tankheThe axleboxes were transferred over to the FRT shed so that the components can be cleaned up. This was an opportunity to use the previously untested parts washer that had been generously donated to the FRT some while ago. After studious reading of the instructions (that’s unusual!) Keith Brewer watches on as John Dixon cleans the axlebox covers.

Wotton Hall's replacement tender tank arrives at PrestonLate afternoon the newly purchased Collett tender tank arrived from Tyseley.

Preparations are made to lift the tank at PrestonAfter some time manoeuvring of the low loader and crane into position, the tank was successfully lifted on to pallets alongside the FRT shed. The photo below shows a winter’s evening scene at Preston as preparations are made for the lift.

Looking forward, there will be another riveting session on Wootton Hall‘s tender frames in the FRT shed on Thursday. Keith and Fred will be travelling over to Embsay on Saturday to undertake some cleaning of 5643 and would welcome offers of assistance.

Monday 17th December 2018

Last week’s blog contained a teaser that there was further news to be broadcast to you all. We can now reveal that the FRT has purchased a second-hand Collett 4,000 gallon tender tank that was advertised for sale nationally. Keith went to look at it at Tyseley and deemed it suitable for further use and ideal for fitting to Wootton Hall‘s chassis which has been the subject of extensive repairs over the past few years. The tank is not expected to arrive at Preston until the New Year.

Keith opens another early Christmas presentKeith is seen here opening another early birthday present on Wednesday when a set of newly cast axlebox underkeeps and brasses appeared in a delivery from the Severn Valley Railway. One of the new axlebox underkeeps for Wootton Hall's tenderThe axlebox underkeeps are indeed fine castings with no signs of corrective fettling, as can be seen here.

Adrian loads Wootton Hall's tender springsOn the departure side, Adrian is seen here placing on to the delivery lorry a set of six springs from Wootton Hall‘s tender which are to be overhauled after over fifty years out of use. Two spare springs are to be manufactured at the same time.

Keith fitting Wootton Hall's RH cab sideAnd talking of Wootton Hall, Keith is seen here temporarily fitting the right hand cab side in order to take measurements for boiler cladding and other fittings.

Wootton Hall's R/H cab side in position complete with numberplateAnother view here with the cab side number plate fitted completely alters the appearance of the loco and shows signs of things to come!

FR 20's boiler now re-positionedThe main job on Wednesday was to jack up FR 20’s boiler to allow easier access from under the firebox. The front of the boiler is now positioned on steel stands.

Elsewhere in the shed some smaller but nevertheless important jobs were tackled on Friday, including degreasing FR 20’s boiler cladding and rejuvenating steel trestles which had gone rusty after being used outside.

The FRT Christmas dinner was held at The Ribble Pilot pub on Saturday when 19 members and guests sat down to meal.

Looking forward to this next week, an NDT examination of FR 20’s boiler and Wootton Hall‘s tender wheelsets has been booked for this next Friday. The Iron Horse is now back with the printer after proof reading and, all being well, should be despatched to members before Christmas. The magazines will also contain membership renewal forms and it is hoped that you will all take the opportunity to return them quickly as we move towards yet another year with plenty of work on the horizon.

Finally, we hope shortly to be able to publish the details of some planned working parties over the Christmas period.

Monday 10th December 2018

Roger cleans one of FR 20's splashersMuch of volunteers’ time this week has been spent on the very basic but important task of cleaning up the motion, frames and boiler of Furness Railway No. 20. An undoubtedly dirty and sometimes very uncomfortable task, this type of work is sometimes inevitable during the day to day work of servicing and overhauling our locomotive fleet. However, if the load is spread, as in this case, it doesn’t become too much of a burden on any one particular person and we are pleased to report that Mike, John Dixon, John Davis, Paul Balshaw, Tim, Roger and Fred have all buckled down to the job with the result that it has progressed extremely well. Hopefully we will soon be in a position whereby can move on to other more satisfying work!John hard at work

Roger making use of scrap pipe

Andy Booth appeared on Sunday and has started the job of removing the tubes from FR 20’s boiler.

Howard has made some more progress on Fluff with assistance from George, who came to give us a hand on Saturday.

There was no riveting last Thursday as the gang is waiting for some special wedges which will enable the more awkward rivets to be fitted on Wootton Hall‘s tender frames. Working on the Hall's tenderMeanwhile, more progress has been made on the upper platework for the tender frames and the test fitting of components.

Keith with reverser standKeith has also been sizing up the position of the reverser stand on the loco frames so that other steelwork can be arranged around it.

The RSR’s Santa Specials along with the FRT sales stand have again consumed much volunteer labour this last weekend. Alan and Tim provided the music with assistance from Matthew on Sunday, Paul B and Mike helped Santa whilst John Davis, Jim, Alison and Jen ran the sales stand. That’s nine of us! With gales forecast, Tim and Matthew took the opportunity to be the first overnight campers in the mess hut to ensure that they were there in good time on Sunday and which we are told worked out well. Jim in festive moodJim is seen herein festive mood.

Looking forward, the Trustees have approved expenditure on the overhaul of the tender springs and the supply of two spares. It is anticipated that the six existing springs will be uplifted from the shed on Wednesday.

The Trustees have also approved the expenditure for a new safety wire system for working at height. It is planned to have this installed throughout the heated and unheated sections of road three of the shed. The technical sales representative of the supplier is due to pay us another visit on Wednesday to finalise details. Finally, just to add to this spending spree, the Trustees have also authorised expenditure on turning tyres and/or journals on a number of wheelsets, namely the three for the Hall‘s tender, two for Caliban and also the two tender wheelsets for FR 20. The work is expected to take place in February. There is something else on the way, but perhaps we’ll leave that for another blog!

Alan has completed the latest edition of The Iron Horse which is now with the printer. And a reminder here that it is the annual Christmas dinner on Saturday evening.

Monday 3rd December 2018

Christmas come earlyHeadline news for this week has been the arrival at Preston of the main components for former Furness Railway 0-4-0 No. 25, more recently known as Barrow Haematite Iron & Steel Co. 0-4-0ST No. 17.

As has been recounted previously in the blog, smaller items for the locomotive have been retrieved from Derby and Crewe, and the boiler components brought down from Stockton-on-Tees. However, it has been necessary to do rather more preparation before the Trust could receive the frames, cab, tank and wheels from storage at Carnforth. However, with the formal swapping of the FRT’s PMV with the RSR’s CCT and the removal of the body from the latter, the scene was set for the arrival of FR 25 last Wednesday morning.

FR 25 up and awayFortunately, all the planning and preparation paid off and the locomotive’s parts were safely offloaded from Martyn Soames low loader by a road crane and then secured on to the CCT frames. Forming a queue outside the FRT shedThe CCT was subsequently, on Thursday, moved around to stand outside the FRT’s shed, forming a queue for attention no doubt!

Fred dusts down FR 20's fireboxIn the meantime, work has continued to clean FR 20’s frames, wheels and motion on both Wednesday and Friday. Fred has now finished wire brushing the firebox and has made a good start on the boiler.

Paul Balshaw and John Davis completed the removal of the cantrail from GER No. 5 on Wednesday and the next stage will be to start the removal of the roof fittings. This is all in preparation for new roof canvas to be fitted.

We received a visit on Wednesday from a safety systems company who can supply a safety wire for the use of those working at height. There are a couple of options for the Trustees to consider.

John Dixon making his boxOne of Cumbria‘s clack boxes has been brought back from Embsay and John Dixon has spent some time making a box so that it can be despatched for repair.

Alan tells us that he is now in the final throes of preparing the next edition of The Iron Horse which it is hoped will be sent out around Christmastime.

Yet another riveting session on Wootton Hall‘s tender frames took place last Thursday, but there is likely to be a short break now whilst suitable wedges are brought in to enable the more awkward rivets to be fitted; this is in hand.

Finally, the RSR’s Santa Trains, which have been fully booked for some weeks, got off to a good start on Saturday and Sunday, with Alan and Tim reprising their roles as musical elves, Alison and Jen operating the FRT’s sales stand, and on Sunday Neil wielding the shovel on Courageous. 


Monday 26th November 2018

As usual, there has been no shortage of things to do this week.

Almost finished - the CCT chassisJohn Dixon has carried on and completed the work of demolishing the body of the CCT. Disposing of the wood is more fun!This left only the task of disposing of the wood, which seemed to take a lot of labour – or perhaps it was just a case of people wanting to gather around a warm fire on a cold day!

Ade loosens the cylinder cover nutsAdrian did what he does best on Wednesday and started the job of dismantling the cylinder covers on FR 20.

Roger cleans FR 20's motionRoger and Tim have been cleaning the motion and running plate whilst Alan has been inspecting the loco for the jobs that need to be done.Alan inspects FR 20 frames

Fred cleans the outside of FR 20's fireboxFred has again been patiently cleaning down the exterior of FR 20’s firebox in order for it to be subjected to non destructive testing.

Heating up another rivetThere was yet another riveting session on Thursday when another 50 or so rivets were inserted into the tender frames. Matt and Keith finish another rivet while John gets the next one readyIt is reckoned that there are now less that 100 more rivets to be added before the tender is finished and a start can be made on the engine’s drag box. We suspect that Matt Gervis is hoping for a Christmas break before the latter is attempted to let his shoulder recover! Keith is seen here drilling yet another hole ready for a rivet.Keith drills yet another hole in Wotton Hall's tender frames

John Davis on the magic carpet with GER No. 5The job of removing the cantrails from GER No. 5 has continued and is now on the last lap. It appears that the north side cantrail has yielded rather more swiftly to John Davis’s attentions.

There was good news from Embsay on Saturday when 5643 passed its steam test in the presence of the boiler surveyor and hauled the first of the Santa Trains there on Sunday. Thanks go to Keith, George and Fred for their efforts in preparing the engine.

The band entertains the Abbeyfield House residentsLive Steam had a busy weekend playing three gigs in less than 24 hours during the Dickensian Festival at Ulverston. After another successful night at the Old Friends inn on Saturday evening, they went on to entertain the residents at Abbeyfield House after lunch on Sunday.

Tim joins the residents in the comfy seatsTim took advantage of an Alan Middleton solo to join the residents and try out the comfy chairs – Alison reckons that he settled in very well and has threatened to make him a reservation for the future!

Live Steam take to the outdoor stage on SundayThe band then went out in the cold to provide the Festival Finale on the Theatre Street stage later in the afternoon, attracting a good crowd in the process. This rather belied the rumour that they are always put on last to make sure that everyone goes home!

Looking forward, next Wednesday should see the arrival at Preston of the frames, cab, tank and wheels from the former Furness Railway No. 25. This should mark the completion of the task of gathering together all the known components from the engine.

Monday 19th November 2018

The Trustees met at Alison’s house last Tuesday where, once safety, cash flow forecasts and work schedules had been mulled over, the major item on the agenda was as usual the task of demolishing the piles of sandwiches and cakes provided. Thank you, Alison!

The following day 5643 passed its cold 14 months examination by the boiler surveyor and a steam test has been arranged for noon next Saturday. All being well 5643 will be hauling Santa Trains on the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway on Sunday.

Alan Middleton inspects the outside on FR 20's fireboxAnother big shunt took place at Preston last Wednesday which saw FR 20’s frames being placed in the unheated part of the FRT shed. Tim spent some time wire brushing the inside of the firebox while Alan went for the cleaner task of removing the external expansion brackets.

On Friday Fred started the task of wire-brushing the exterior of FR 20’s boiler and firebox whilst Roger undertook some cleaning of the frames and motion.

John Davis, with assistance from Paul Newton, removed the remainder of the south cantrail on GER No. 5 on Wednesday and then on Friday moved around  to commence work on the north side. There was also more work on Fluff and the riveting gang convened once again on Thursday.

John Dixon at work on the PMVOutside, at the end of Wednesday John Dixon had nearly finished the task of dismantling the body on the PMV, which will then be used to accommodate the frames of FR 25 on arrival.

Next weekend sees folk group Live Steam back in action, firstly performing a Lancashire Night set of songs at the Old Friends public house in Ulverston on Saturday evening. On Sunday afternoon they will be appearing at Ulverston’s Abbeyfield House before taking their place on the Theatre Street car park stage at 15.25 to start to bring to a close the weekend’s Dickensian Festival; unusually the weather forecast for Sunday looks relatively placid with no snow or hurricanes yet forecast! (Oh dear, now that will have tempted fate… Ed.)

Monday 12th November 2018

Ed and Alan move Caliban's wheelsThere was a productive shunt last Wednesday when FR 20’s boiler was moved into the FRT shed to enable work to commence under cover. At the same time it was possible to release Caliban‘s wheels which were moved out by hand, with Ed Tatham and Alan Middleton seen here with the driving set. Thanks to Phil, Matt B and Ade who moved the stock around to make it all happen.

John Davis still up in the airJohn Davis and Paul Balshaw spent more time this week in their efforts to release more of the south side cantrail on GER 5 while Paul Newton continued work on the L&NWR platform seat.

John Dixon and Ed continue the demolition of the PMVJohn Dixon and Ed spent time on Wednesday dismantling the body on the PMV.

Mike Rigg attempts to remove some of Fluff's footplateHoward, Alan Ogden and Mike Rigg concentrated their efforts on Fluff, with Mike seen here trying to remove a stubborn piece of the cab footplate.

Keith, George and Fred spent Wednesday over at Embsay preparing 5643 for its 14 month cold boiler exam, which is scheduled to take place at 10.00 on Friday, 16th November.

Roger attends to the water pump with assistance from FredFred was back at Preston on Friday with Roger and brought back from Embsay the high pressure water pump which was suffering from wobbly wheels! Roger set about making the necessary repairs and then subsequently also repaired the fan in the mess room which had disintegrated the previous week.

Keith bolts on the tender steps fixing plate.There was a further riveting session last Thursday although the absence of Matt G reduced the number of rivets fitted. There will be another session next Thursday. Keith is seen here fitting a step retaining bracket on the tender frames.

Bill Croston's new mural in place by the playgroundAnd finally, outside the FRT shed, Bill Croston’s new mural has been erected alongside the new children’s playground.

Monday 5th November 2018

Unlike last week’s blog, there is no headline news this week. Just lots of things to do!

Last Wednesday saw the start of a massive shunt devised by Matt Gervis which should see all the winter projects on site in their rightful places. Eventually this will see both FR 20’s frames and boiler undercover in the FRT shed so that the ten year overhaul can progress.

Ade and Andy Beswick with the Class 47 cab.The first part of the shunt involved the transfer of the Class 47 cab from the Ribble Rail shed to the workshop where it will be turned around with the crane before being put on display in the museum. Ade and Andy Beswick are seen here conducting the move of the Class 47 at an appropriate slow walking pace. Unfortunately, despite their patience, one set of wheels on the accommodation bogie ran hot and seized about 200 yards further down the line, which brought the shunt to a premature halt whilst things cooled down and oil was liberally applied to those parts that needed it. The tendency of diesel Stanlow to dump its air without notice also delayed matters so it is now anticipated that the next stage of the shunt will take place next Wednesday.

John Dixon prods a stubborn brick arch in FR 20's fireboxMeanwhile, John Dixon and Tim set about removing the brick arch from FR 20’s firebox. This, like the shunt above, turned out to be a rather longer job than anticipated owing to the fact that the arch did not appear to have deteriorated over the past ten years. However, two and a half hours later the final piece fell to the ground to be barrowed away and the weltrol tidied.

Keith and Alan with Cumbria's fireman's side clack boxCumbria‘s clackbox has recently been brought back to Preston for attention, it being replaced at Embsay by one of their own. Keith and Alan can been seen here dismantling the various items and it looks as if we will need to order a special, no doubt expensive, tap to clean up some of the threads inside the body.

Alan Ogden and Howard with FluffAlan Ogden has appeared again from the deep south west and was at work with Howard on Fluff.

John Davis works on GER 5John Davis has been continuing with the long and tedious task of removing the cantrails from the GER Royal Saloon as a prelude to the canvas roof being replaced. John achieved the removal of the middle section of the south cantrail this week. Well done!

The riveting gang met again on Thursday for a productive session during which another fifty or so rivets were fitted to Wootton Hall‘s tender frames.

Roger Benbow removing wood from the PMVVarious people have been assisting with the removal of the top of the PMV and John Dixon and Roger followed up their work on Friday by removing most of the remaining wood whilst Fred enjoyed a seasonal bonfire with the unwanted pieces of wood.Fred and his pre 5th November bonfire

Bob Thomson appeared on Friday to continue his work on drawings for Wootton Hall and Mike Rigg received some ribbing from fellow members for finding a nice warm office in which he has been sorting out a backlog of RSR membership forms.

Looking forward, Keith and Fred will be travelling over to Embsay on Wednesday to commence the task of preparing 5643 for its 14 month boiler survey which is booked to take place on the 16th November. Further working parties there are likely on either Friday of Saturday.

Monday 29th October 2018

We start with the news that FR 20’s boiler was successfully lifted out of the frames at Preston on Saturday afternoon. John Dixon, Ade and Tim had spent time on Wednesday clearing the chosen weltrol wagon of springs and other miscellaneous items and then loading old sleepers which would support the boiler when loaded. The threesome returned on Saturday when rail entry to the workshop was easier with the service rake of coaches absent and in use.

John and Ade arrange the lifting straps on FR 20's boilerAndy Murphy offered to operate the crane and, after fitting the lifting straps a few test lifts were made to adjust the positions after which a perfectly level lift was achieved.

A perfect liftThe boiler was turned around to enable easier extraction of the tubes when the weltrol is finally shunted into road two of the FRT shed.

John waiting for the weltrolAfter some re-arrangement of the sleepers, the boiler was finally lowered on to the weltrol. A key milestone in the overhaul of FR 20 had been achieved.FR 20's boiler on the weltrol

Andy Murphy lights the gas axeWednesday saw the start of the removal of the body from the newly acquired PMV. Andy Murphy is seen here preparing to light the gas axe.

The JCB at workOnce some of the stanchions had been cut through the JCB was brought in to pull the components apart.

PMV looking a bit sadJohn Dixon and Chris Rycroft achieved some further destruction on Friday with a jig saw and, being the thrifty fellow that he is, John retrieved some of the wooden panelling for further use.

There was no riveting session on Wootton Hall‘s tender on Thursday owing to the indisposition of Matt Gervis. However, there has been good progress on painting the newly riveted front section of the frames. Keith with the rear buffer beam for Wootton Hall's tender ready for rivetingKeith is seen here with the rear buffer beam which is now ready for riveting into place.

Alien called George at workWe had another ‘Dr Who’ invasion on Saturday, but this alien, named George, was happy to be put to productive work removing rivet heads.

There has been some further progress by Ade with the decoration of Caliban‘s frames. Fred painting Fluff's framesFluff has received more attention from Howard, Alan Ogden and Fred, who applied some primer paint to the frames.

John Davis at work on GER 5Some further progress as made on Friday by Mike and John Davis on removing the cantrails from GER Royal Saloon No. 5.

Finally, Alison and Alan appeared on Friday to set up the FRT sales stand which Alison staffed over the Spooky Trains weekend.