Monday 20th May 2019

With Cumbria now safely delivered to the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway last Monday, it was time this week for the Trust’s working members to concentrate on other jobs at Preston. The following photos give a flavour of what has been going on.

Phil Bell reassembles Fluff's handbrakeFluff‘s brake shaft, which controls the brake rods that apply the brake shoes, has been proving difficult to rotate. In short, it has seized up because of lack of use. The application of a 14lb sledge hammer proved to be fruitless so Phil Bell decided that it would be helpful to re-mount the hand brake handle and pedestal to apply pressure and we are pleased to be able to report that this was a success.

John Dixon cleans the underside of FR 20's tenderThe seven wheelsets that were sent away for machining are due to be picked up from Coalville next Wednesday and are likely to be delivered to Preston the following Wednesday. In anticipation of this, John Dixon has been cleaning the underside of FR 20’s tender so that it can be painted before the wheelsets are fitted.

Keith cuts up the remains of Wootton Hall's old tender tankKeith has been cutting up the last portions of the base from Wootton Hall‘s old tender tank….

Fred paints the inside of Wootton Hall's new tender tank…. while Fred has been applying black gloss paint to the upper inside parts of the new tender tank….

John Davis removes rivets from Wootton Hall's tender tank.…. meanwhile, John Davis has been removing rivets from the bottom of the tender tank coal space so that new plate can be fitted….

The new water hose connectors for Wootton Hall's tender…. finally, the new water hose connectors for Wootton Hall‘s tender have been made up and await silver soldering of the flanges.

The Trustees meet tomorrow evening at Alison’s house in order to tackle the usual mountain of refreshments as well as to agree and approve the Trustees’ Annual Report and Accounts for 2018. Hopefully it will also be possible to set a date for the Annual General Meeting.

Advance notice here that there won’t be a blog next week because the editorial team is taken up with other duties during the Bank Holiday and half term week – OK there’s a holiday beckoning!

Monday 13th May 2019

Alan inspects Cumbria's left hand piston glandAde got up bright and early again last Wednesday to put Cumbria over the pit at Preston before putting a small fire in the firebox ready for a test steaming. Alan and Tim then dismantled the left hand piston rod gland and found the metallic packings to have fragmented, confirming this as the cause of a steam leak when the loco was under load. Soft packing material was located and fitted prior to steam being raised to maximum. Tim and then Ade took Cumbria for trips up and down the yard in order to test the new packings and the steam brake before Ade loaded up the spare springs.

Friday saw John Davis and Phil Bell descend on Cumbria to clear the coal bunker and to give it a final clean and polish. Tim meanwhile removed the lubrication pipes to the piston rod and valve spindles to be cleaned out. The oil pots were replenished with fresh oil and the trimmings cleaned, primed with oil and replaced to give a steady satisfying drip of oil over the rods and spindles.

Fred with paint brushWork has again continued on Fluff, FR 20 and Wootton Hall. Fred is seen here painting Wootton Hall‘s tender tank in between heavy showers of rain. News from Leicestershire is that machining work on the wheelsets for Caliban and the tenders for Wootton Hall and FR20 has been completed and arrangements are now being made for their return to Preston. One of the additional tasks undertaken was removing a score from one of the crank pins on Caliban‘s wheels. Jeff at CMS Cepcor kindly sent us this short video of the crank pin being machined – click on this link to view.

Cumbria heading for Embsay 130519Today saw Cumbria loaded and despatched to Embsay where it will join the Trust’s GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643. We show here a photo of 5643 double heading with Illingworth, also a recent temporary resident at Preston, courtesy of the Embsay Locomotive Department Facebook page.


Monday 6th May 2019

Just a very brief Bank Holiday update for you.

More work was carried out on FR 20’s engine frames, including the chipping away of loose concrete on the cylinder block by Phil Scales.

Alan spent some more time investigating Cumbria‘s left hand clackbox to try and eliminate any showing of steam at the injector tail pipe. It is proposed on Wednesday to re-pack the left hand piston gland, which started to blow over the RSR’s Steam Gala, before conducting another steam test. It is expected that Cumbria will be then heading off to Embsay shortly to join the FRT’s 0-6-2T 5643 for the season.

Stanlow doing the businessAde and Mike set about moving 0-4-0DM Fluff last Wednesday afternoon in order to position it over the pit. Stanlow was brought around from the running shed and, after a complicated set of moves, Caliban‘s boiler was moved out of the shed and then Fluff took its place. The frames of Fluff and Caliban (left rear) in the FRT shed formerly nos. 2 and 1 respectivelyThis should enable the engine to be lifted for overhaul.

Keith working in Wootton Hall's cabAs ever, Keith has been busy with Wootton Hall and is seen here measuring up the cab.

We must mention the sad news that Fylde based folk singer, Alan Bell, passed away a week last Thursday at the age of 84. Alan wrote many fine songs, including the much-covered “Bread and Fishes”, and was Director of the long running Fylde Folk Festival, to which the FRT supplied sound personnel and equipment for 17 years, which in turn helped the Trust’s coffers. Alan’s funeral is at Carlton crematorium at 10.30 this Friday.

Mystery photoFinally we cannot go without resolving the mystery photo from 7 days ago!

Mike Rigg’s shot was taken through one of the holes made in Caliban‘s buffer beam to enable the cylinders to be re-bored.


Monday 29th April 2019

The job of re-boring Caliban’s cylinders was finished last Tuesday by Team Marrow, which marks the completion of another important stage in its overhaul.

Cumbria being prepared on Sunday, 28th AprilAde got himself out of bed at an early hour to light up Cumbria (thank you, Ade) so that it could undergo a pre-hire inspection in steam by Tony Wright of the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway. All went well and Cumbria then went on to appear at the RSR’s Spring Steam Gala on Saturday and Sunday. It is seen here being prepared on Sunday morning and also at the head of the 11.30 train from Riverside station on Saturday with Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0ST No. 1208 Illingworth (also bound for Embsay in the near future) on the rear.Cumbria on the 11.30 train at Riverside Saturday 27th April

A myriad of jobs have been taking place at Preston. John Dixon measuring one of Wottoon Hall's axleboxes in order to make a pattern for a missing piece.John Dixon has been measuring up one of Wootton Hall‘s tender axleboxes so that he can make a pattern for a casting to repair some damage.

John Davis at work on Wootton hall's tender tankJohn Davis has been spending more time working on Wootton Hall‘s new tender tank.

Roger Benbow getting down to work on Fr 20's boiler crinolinesTim has again been cleaning up FR 20’s frames whilst Roger Benbow set to work on cleaning up the crinolines for FR 20’s boiler.

Fred has cleaned up the platform ticket machine pedestal ready for it to be re-painted.

The new running board support on FluffWork has also continued on Fowler 0-4-0DM Fluff where a replacement running board support, fabricated by John Stewart, has been fitted.

5643 at work at EmbsayOver at Embsay, 5643 has been busy turning its wheels again and we have an Instagram photo here of it on a dining train there.

Mystery photoAlso, Mike Rigg has submitted a mystery photo for you identify. Answer next week.

Finally the fruits of our Treasurer’s work on the 2018 accounts have been delivered today to the Independent Examiner for scrutiny. We shall no doubt have to fix up an AGM soon.

Tuesday 23rd April 2019

Just a brief post-Easter update this week for you…

Alan peers into the fireman's side clackbox on CumbriaWork at Preston last Wednesday concentrated on following up issues brought to light from the test steaming of Cumbria two days earlier. Alan is seen here peering into the fireman’s side clackbox to try and identify the cause of a small steam pass.

John Dixon spent an uncomfortable time underneath the loco on replacing cotters which hold the ashpan in place. He then set about cleaning out the slide bar trimmings on Friday. Cumbria is due for another steam test tomorrow (Wednesday) and is then due to take part in the RSR’s Spring Steam Gala this weekend. After that, if all is well, it should shortly be heading off to Embsay to join the FRT’s GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643 which is currently holding the fort there until reinforcements arrive.

Work on our Fowler 0-4-0DM Fluff continues and it is hoped to lift out the engine in the not-too-distant future, assuming that a shunt can be arranged.

Phil Scales and John Davis at work on Wootton Hall's tender tankFinally, outside the shed, work has continued on cleaning off and painting of Wootton Hall‘s recently purchased tender tank. In action on this are Phil Scales and John Davis (above) and Ed Tatham (below).Ed paints Wootton Hall's tender tank


Monday 15th April 2019

John Dixon fits the drivers side water valve on CumbriaThe Trust’s ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Cumbria was once again the centre of attention this last week as final preparations were made for a test steaming. The loco had a second washout on Wednesday and the mudhole doors and washout plugs were refitted. Alan finished fitting the regulator quadrant and┬áJohn Dixon is seen here fitting the driver’s side water valve.

Phil Bell touches up the paint on Cumbria's nameplatePhil Scales and Phil Bell continued the task of sprucing up the appearance of the loco with the latter touching up the black paint on the nameplates.

On Friday Ed pulled Cumbria out of the shed, cleaned the firebox and emptied the ashpan. The boiler was also filled but it was decided to delay the test steaming until today when there would be more people to assist and more time for testing.

Cumbria back in steam with members Keith, Ade and Dave StarkieAde appeared bright and early this morning and had Cumbria lit up by 8.15. Steam was raised just after 1.oo and the pressure brought up slowly. Tim and Matt Jervis were looking at the drain cocks closely with fingers crossed as steam built up, to detect whether the regulator or ‘J’ pipe were passing steam, but all was well. The afternoon was spent chasing up steam leaks on cab fittings and then moving the loco to test the regulator and brakes. Tim tightens the steam brake pipe to Cumbria's manifoldTim is seen here tightening up the brake steam pipe to the manifold whilst Alan looks on.

On the whole the exercise was deemed to be a success although there is a list of things to follow up on Wednesday when the engine has cooled down.

Wootton Hall's new gauge frame castingsA notable arrival this week has a package with the castings for Wootton Hall’s gauge frame.

Part of the historic collection?Finally, when Tim went to the NRM at Shildon on Saturday for a training day, he came across an upstand advert inviting volunteers to work with the NRM’s historic collection featuring none other than Alan – is he now officially part of the NRM’s historic collection, we wonder?!

Monday 8th April 2019

Ade and John Dixon propel Cumbria's 'J 'pipe up a ladder whilst Phil Bell hauls on the safety rope and Alan watches on in the backgroundThe main centre of activity this week has once again been the Trust’s ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Cumbria as members have expedited the completion of the remainder of the winter maintenance programme. The key event on Wednesday was the task of re-installing the ‘J’ pipe and regulator valves. The photo shows John and Ade in the process of pushing the extremely heavy ‘J’ pipe rung by rung up a ladder whilst Phil Bell hauls on the safety rope to prevent it from dropping back down the ladder. It was a little unconventional, but was deemed to be the safest method – and what’s more, it worked. Matt Jervis was on top of the saddle tank to receive the ‘J’ pipe and secure it back on to the main steam pipe. By the end of Wednesday all was ready for the dome cover to be re-fitted, which was achieved on Friday.

John Dixon gives one of the water valves a good cleanAlan tackled the job of re-fitting the regulator stuffing box on Friday and John Dixon had completed the servicing of the water valves. Phil Bell and Roger re-fitted the balance pipe after a through clean. Phil Scales applies a coat of black paint to Cumbria's running board.The last job on Friday was the completion by Tim of the fresh coat of black paint on the running board and cab steps that had been started on Wednesday by both Phils.Cumbria, with shiny running board, ready to leave the FRT shed

Cumbria on the way into the running shed on Saturday morningRuss Walker kindly offered to arrange the movement of Cumbria around to the running shed on Saturday morning so that a further wash-out can be carried out this week, the plugs and mudhole doors be re-inserted, and (hopefully) a fire lit. It will be a case of fingers crossed as we check out the results of everyone’s labours over the past three months.

Caliban's boiler over the pit in the FRT shed with FR 20's boiler in the backgroundCumbria has been replaced in the shed by Caliban‘s boiler, which can be seen here with FR 20’s boiler in the background.

Wootton Hall's tender shows off its new undercoat greenWork has, as ever, continued on Fluff, the former L&NWR platform bench seat, and Wootton Hall‘s tender tank, which has now received a fresh coat of undercoat green on the first side to be cleaned off.


Monday 1st April 2019

Caliban's re-bore underway on tday, 26th MarchBryn Engineering started the re-bore of Caliban‘s cylinders last Tuesday and continued into Wednesday. There is still some work to be completed which will be done shortly.

The main focus of activity has been on Cumbria which needs to be back in traffic at Embsay as soon as possible. Tim has completed his work on the ‘J’ pipe valve faces and Bill Norcross has machined two new bolts to hold the ‘J’ pipe in place which replace existing bolts with worn threads. It is hoped to be able to put this all back together this next week.

The clack on the newly refurbished fireman’s side clack box has been ground in and Alan Middleton has silver soldered a new joint on to one of the brake valve pipes. Alan silver soldering a joint on one of Cumbria's brake valve pipesAgain, the brake valve should be re-mounted this next week.

Phil Bell starts the job of undercoating Cumbria's running boardThe running board and cab steps have received a coat of grey undercoat paint, courtesy of Phil Bell (pictured) and Roger.Undercoat now applied!

Outside, work has continued on cleaning old paint from the new tender tank for Wootton Hall. Six repaired and two new springs for the tender have been delivered to Preston, and news from CMS Cepcor in Leicestershire is that the wheelsets have been in the lathe for re-profiling.

John Dixon undertook a variety of minor work on FR 20’s frames whilst anyone else spare this last week has continued the work on Fluff‘s frames.

With thanks for the image, from Embsay's Facebook siteFinally, over at the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway, 5643 was, as planned, in steam for Mother’s Day.

Monday 25th March 2019

We start this week’s blog with the good news that 5643 successfully operated a train from Embsay to Bolton Abbey yesterday, double-heading with Taff Vale 0-6-2T No.85 – a rare case of two ‘Taffy Tanks’ operating together! The run successfully drew to a conclusion the winter work on 5643 which has included the replacement of three stays. Well done to Keith and his team.

Cumbria's running board ready for undercoat.Back at Preston, it has very much been a case of ‘more of the same’ as our members have continued to clean up the Trust’s ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Cumbria. The running plate and cab steps have been rubbed down and primed ready for the undercoat to be applied this week. Phil Scales rubs down Cumbria's cab stepsNew member Phil Scales is seen here busy with the sand paper.

Work has also continued on Cumbria‘s regulator valve which has given trouble over the past year. We’ll spare you yet another photo of Bob with his feeler gauges but we can report that the sliding brass faces are very much close to being finished. Tim came in on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday to try and tame the ‘J’ pipe, which is also looking much closer to the finishing line.

Alan Ogden has re-appeared from the south west to continue his work on Fluff‘s electrical systems whilst Howard, John Davis and David, among others, have again been working on the frames.

There is promise of further progress on Caliban this week with John Marrow due to arrive tomorrow and Wednesday to re-bore the cylinders.

56090 on a RSR passenger train 230319Saturday and Sunday marked the start of 2019 passenger services on the Ribble Steam Railway with a successful Diesel Gala. Guest Colas C0-C0 locomotive No. 56 090 is seen here on the end of one of the trains.

Finally, we conclude with further good news in that the lease for the Furness Railway Trust Shed has been executed today. It appears that years of persistence have paid off and thanks go to everyone who has been involved in what has turned out to be rather a long drawn out process. We have a home that we can rightly call our very own at last!

Monday 18th March 2019

Work continues on preparing the Trust’s two current operational locomotives for the forthcoming operating season.

Bob and Tim spent last Wednesday and Friday with their noses literally to the grindstone as they strove to face up Cumbria‘s regulator valve with the ‘J’ pipe. Howard, with John Davis as apprentice, ran the surface grinder over the steel plate that had previously been cut by Keith to enable carborundum paste to be applied to the surfaces, having detected a bow in it. Bob uses a feeler gauge to check progress with work on Cumbria's regulator valveBob is seen applying his feeler gauge to check test progress. By the end of Friday both the regulator valve and the ‘J’ pipe were deemed to be in much better shape although further work will be required this next week. In view of time pressures, Tim spent another day on the job today.

Phil rubs down Cumbria's running boardThe spruce up of Cumbria has also continued apace, led by John Dixon and assisted by Phil Bell and Phil Scales. The running board is receiving a rub down with a view to giving it a fresh coat of black paint in the near future.

Turning to our other operational loco,┬áKeith and Fred went to Embsay on Saturday to undertake a washout on 5643. Keith’s description of the weather is unprintable here, for both he and Fred got soaked to the skin. Fortunately, after having put the loco back into one piece, a fire was lit on Sunday and, at relatively low pressure, the newly fitted stays appeared satisfactory. Keith plans a further visit on Thursday to complete the fitting of firebox cladding before returning at the weekend to undertake a full steam test.

Adrian was been busy on FR 20’s heavy general overhaul on Wednesday where he removed the valve chest cover and split the right hand piston rod from the cross head. Ade has his eyes on splitting the left hand rod and cross head next week. This will then enable the pistons to be extracted for the piston rings to be changed. Alan inspects FR 20's valve chestAlan is seen here on Friday inspecting the results of Ade’s endeavours.

Roger Benbow cleans FR 20's drawhook springRoger spent more time cleaning, in this case up FR 20’s drawhook spring.

Keith has, as expected, been busy with Wootton Hall where he has connected up the rear vacuum pipe on the tender. Bill Norcross test fits a newly machined axlebox brassBill Norcross has started the machining of the new axlebox brasses and completed the first successful fitting into an axlebox on Friday.