Monday 4th December 2023

Spotless axlebox and keepIt has been another week of steady progress with the overhaul of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643. There has been some fastidious cleaning of components taking place as can be seen by this photo of one of the axlebox bearings and keep.

Fred cleaning 5643's radial wheelsFred has been concentrating on cleaning the radial wheels before they are sent away for re-profiling.

Finally, as we head towards the close of the year, Alan Middleton has been putting the final touches to the next edition of The Iron Horse, which is now with our printer. All being well this should be out before Christmas.

Monday 27th November 2023

Ed Tatham jacks up the rear of 5643's frames on Wednesday, 22nd NovemberThere was some good progress on the overhaul of GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643 this week. Ed Tatham is seen here jacking up the rear of the frames on Wednesday so that the radial wheels could be released.

John Dixon with the released wheelsOnce the wheels had been released the chassis was then partially lowered.

Keith Brewer and Sam Middleton working to dismantle the radial truckKeith and Sam worked on Saturday to dismantle the radial truck so that the wheels can be sent away to be re-profiled.

5643's boiler after the NDT with dye penetrant visibleFriday saw a short notice visit from Jim Kennedy and son to undertake a non-destructive test on 5643’s boiler. The white dye penetrant that was used can clearly be seen. We are pleased to report that the initial results were positive, but we await a visit from the boiler surveyor to confirm the extent of work required on the boiler during its ten-year overhaul.

Alan Middleton with the gift wrapped replacement engine for FluffWednesday saw the arrival of a gift wrapped package that was delivered from Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Inside was a four cylinder Perkins diesel engine with twin disc torque converter for Fowler 0-4-0DM Fluff, which had become surplus to requirements at the Pleasure Beach but which should give new life to Fluff. The FRT is extremely grateful to Blackpool Pleasure Beach for helping out the Trust in this way.

FR 20's smokebox door being readied for re-paintingFinally, Tim has set about beautifying Furness Railway No. 20’s smokebox after the lower paintwork had been burnt away during the locomotive’s climbs up the steep gradients at Blaenavon’s Heritage Railway this summer.

Monday 20th November 2023

Just a very short blog this week.

There is still plenty of work going on in the FRT shed at Preston, notably the rise on jacks of 5643’s frames which will eventually allow the release of the radial wheels for re-profiling.

The first Santa Specials are being run at the Ribble Steam Railway this next Saturday for a large party of Brownies so Alan and Tim will be reprising their renditions of Jingle Bells etc this coming week.

Most importantly, we can know let everyone know that the Furness Railway Trust’s annual Christmas Dinner will be held on Friday, 15th December!


Monday 13th November 2023

Ed cleaning paint from 5643's running plateWork has continued on the frames of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643. Ed is seen cleaning paint off the running plate.

Jon Dixon painting 5643Jon Dixon has been catching up with some painting underneath.

John Dixon warming up Sam's nutsSam has been attempting to remove the nuts that hold the rear cylinder covers in place, the bottom nuts being particularly stubborn. John Dixon has been applying some gas heat to loosen them off.

Some welcome progress on the exterior of Wootton Hall's tender tankElsewhere, Phil Bell has been working in the kitchen of Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5 to replace missing drawers. Keith has been applying some more two-pack primer inside the tender of Great Western Railway ‘Hall’ class 4-6-0 No. 4979 Wootton Hall and is intending to conduct another water test shortly. Meanwhile Tim has been attending to the ‘ploughed field’ surface on the exterior of the water tank. Much of the left hand side has now received a skim of filler which has been sanded. A first coat of primer is being applied which has the added benefit of highlighting areas that need further attention.

Monday 6th November 2023

Sim and Jon Dixon with the fire pump.As predicted in last week’s blog, the wash out of 5643’s boiler took place last Wednesday. We were able to welcome Sim Dixon for his first working party who, along with twin brother Jon, coaxed the fire pump into life after some tender care. Both Sim and Jon were members of the Lakeside Railway Society fire brigade in the early days at Haverthwaite and they also owned two wartime fire tenders, one of which they still have.

The ensemble of FRT rolling stock with Alen Johnson holding the hoseAde had pulled the various rolling stock out of the FRT shed to enable to the wash out to take place, FR 20’s tender supplying the water as usual. Given the distance involved, there had to be an established signalling system between Sam, who was wielding the hose pipe, and Sim and Jon who were controlling the fire pump. Alen Johnson was on hand to hold the hose in place for Sam.

Andy Booth in 5643's somebox cutting out the first flue tubeAndy Booth came to Preston on Friday with the aim of removing the six flue tubes from 5643’s boiler. These were expected to be stubborn, being screwed into the firebox tubeplate. Andy can be seen at work in the smokebox…

Sam at work in 5643's firebox… whilst Sam gave assistance from the firebox.

The first flue on its way outAndy gets the first of the flues on its way out.

John Dixon and Keith Brewer lend a hand to haul out the flue tubeThe flue is then pulled out of the boiler by John Dixon and Keith.

The flue tube sees daylightA final view as the flue makes its way into daylight, to be followed eventually by the other five flues. A good job done.

John Davis re-painting the cab warning plate from 5643Finally, John Davis has been cleaning 5643’s cab and has repainted the cast plate which warns crews of the perils of looking or walking alongside the cab.

Monday 30th October 2023

FR20 and GER5 head off to the FRT shed for winterAde kindly performed the shunt that brought Furness Railway No. 20 and Great Eastern royal saloon No. 5 back into the FRT shed where winter maintenance can be undertaken.

A good clean of FR 20 would not go amiss and work is required to remove traces of burnt paintwork on the smokebox and smokebox door after its strenuous efforts at Blaenavon!

5643's frames Work continues on the cleaning and stripping down of 5643’s frames. The above photo indicates the progress being made with the paintbrushes.

Finally, arrangements are currently being made for a non-destructive test of the boiler which will assist with assessing the extent of work required during the overhaul. It is planned that a second wash out of the boiler will take place this Wednesday now that the small tubes have been removed.

Monday 23rd October 2023

The new driver's brake valve for Wootton HallKeith visited Tyseley Loco Works last Tuesday and picked up the long-awaited brand new driver’s brake valve for GWR ‘Hall’ class 4-6-0 No. 4979 Wootton Hall. This should just about complete the cab fittings required for the locomotive.

One of the two new steam heating valves for Wootton HallKeith had also arranged to pick up two new steam heat valves for Wootton Hall which had been machined up, one of them being seen here.

Saturday saw all the small tubes removed from GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643. Just the six flue tubes now remain, and these will be removed this Wednesday.

The eccentric strap from Cumbria which needed repairAnd there was good news from Embsay last Thursday in that ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Cumbria passed an in-steam test following the repair to one of its eccentric straps by Andy Booth. The above photo shows the strap with the side piece of metal that had fallen away.

Monday 16th October 2023

Anne Burton and John Davis working together on one of 5643's sandboxesIt was a down to earth week at Preston this last week as members spent much of their time working on 5643’s frames and components. Anne Burton and John Davis are seen cleaning up one of 5643’s sandboxes…

Phil Burton polishes one of 5643's coupling rods… while Phil Burton polished one of 5643’s coupling rods…

Ed Tatham chips rust off 5643's frames… and Ed chipped away at rust on the frames.

Finally for this week, over at Embsay, the eccentric strap on ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Cumbria that had been causing concern has been removed to reveal that a strip of the side metal had come adrift. However, the main bearing metal was still intact.  Andy Booth took the offending strap away to work some of his magic on it and it is now expected to be refitted to the locomotive during the next day or so. Thanks, Andy.

Monday 9th October 2023

Just a short update this week after last week’s lengthy blog.

Sam gingerly removes a washout plug from FR 20The boiler of Furness Railway No. 20 was successfully washed out on Friday as part of the process of winterising the locomotive. Sam had previously drained the boiler on Wednesday and loosened the plugs. Removing the bottom drain plug is quite a tricky task if you want to avoid an involuntary shower! The plug is located behind the injector which gets in the way of the rush of water and sprays it liberally in all directions. The photos show Sam gingerly removing the plug and then the aftermath!Sam trying to escape the rush of water from FR 20's boiler

4979's front right coupling rod looking all the better after some attention from Fred's cup wire brushFred gave the newly acquired front right coupling rod for 4979 Wootton Hall a good polishing with his trusty cup wire brush.

5643's cut off superheater element block ends ready to go to TyseleyKeith separated the superheater block ends from the rest of 5643’s elements in readiness to take them to Tyseley for the elements to be renewed.

Elsewhere, there has some tidying up in the shed and some more small finishing jobs tackled in the Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5.

Monday 2nd October 2023

There was no blog last Monday as many of us were busy attending the FRT’s Annual General Meeting at Preston on Monday evening. A full quorum was present, no doubt tempted by the last and main item on the agenda which was Alison’s catering! Needless to say, there were no long awkward questions that would have delayed us attending to the sandwiches, sausage rolls and cake. Thanks to all who attended and also to Alison for the food.

The west saloon with crockeryThis last weekend saw the Ribble Steam Railway’s Gala take place where Furness Railway No 20 and the Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5 were scheduled to appear, the latter making its public debut after an in depth overhaul. The east saloonWednesday saw the tables laid out in GER No. 5 for the first time.

Final equipment loaded inThis was followed by a final loading of equipment on the Saturday morning.

Alison gives a waveOne or two of us felt quite emotional as the seats on the coach rapidly filled and it set off for its first journey. Alson gave us a wave as she went past.

The RSR catering crew dressed for the occasionRSR volunteers entered into the spirit of the occasion by dressing appropriately for the serving of drinks in the mornings and then cream teas in the afternoons.

A cake for FR 20's 160th birthdayA cake (yes, more cake) appeared at 12.50 on Saturday so that the 160th and 125th birthdays respectively of FR 20 and GER No. 5 could be celebrated. (And, yes, we did leave some for Ade who was driving on Sunday!)

Hudswelll Clarke 0-4-ST WaleswoodThe visiting engine for the Gala was Hudswell Clarke 0-4-0ST No. 750 Waleswood of 1906.

FR 20 and rayal saloon arrive at Preston Riverside on Sunday afternoonThe weather was variable, the heavy rain testing the stamina of those in the open cab of FR 20 on Saturday afternoon, but the crowds turned up and the royal coach was sold out on both days. Trains ran to time, despite it being deemed the RSR’s most complex Gala timetable, and there were many lovely comments received from satisfied customers. Well done to all those involved.

Fred cleans up an eccentric rod

Away from the public eye, work has continued on stripping Great Western Railway 0-6-2T locomotive No. 5643 as part of its overhaul, with Fred seen here cleaning up one of the eccentric rods.

The RRV lifts Caliban's saddle tankAnd there is good news for those followers of Peckett 0-4-0ST Caliban where the old saddle tank has finally been recovered by the Ribbe Rail Road Rail Vehicle and sent off to Bradshaw Sheet Metal for replacement, along with Caliban’s smokebox and the ashpan from 5643.All items were squeezed on board the lorry

Examining the saddle tank at Bradshaw'sAlan and Sam paid a visit to Bradshaw’s last Tuesday followed by Keith on Thursday.

Finally, over at Embsay, one of Cumbria’ eccentrics has been removed following the discovery that some of the white metal on it had come adrift. It is hoped to effect a repair in the not too distant future.