Monday 13th January 2020

A short update to let you know that the working members have still been hard at work this week.

Phil Bell, John Davis and Roger Benbow in the process for re-assembling the brake gear on FR 20's tenderFR 20’s brake gear has been re-assembled after the long job of cleaning off old paintwork and re-painting – and, of course, remembering how it all fitted together! It seems that there was a little difficulty in getting the final split pins to fit with the suspicion being that the latest layer of paint is thicker than the previous layer. However, with the assistance of clamps, the job was finally achieved.

John Dixon has finished his work in modifying the rear drawgear on FR 20’s tender and, now that the brake gear is also in place, this will enable the painting of the outside of the tender to take place. Tim got out the masking tape and made a start with the painting on Friday afternoon.

Alan has been busy cutting out jointing material for the boiler blanks which, when fitted, will enable the hydraulic test to take place. However, before this can happen, the boiler itself needs to be moved to an area where it can be accessed by a lifting device to enable the dome to be re-fitted. The first shunt move to enable this to happened took place on Thursday morning. It is to be hoped that the next moves, which will also involve the movement of Caliban‘s wheels to the front of the frames, will take place in the not too distant future.

John Davis at work painting FluffWork has continued to paint Fluff, with John Davis wielding the trusty brush.More paint on Fluff

With various smaller lifting tasks due to take place as projects progress, a 500kg lifting table has been purchased and is due to arrived this next week. It will be interesting to find out just how much assembly will be involved and just how soon we will have to resort to the instructions!

Fred (the giant!) watches Gavin Redshaw at workWe have been joined over the last couple of weeks by artist Gavin Redshaw, who is preparing some drawings to be put on show in the Harris Institute. Fred is seen watching over Gavin as he sketches Caliban‘s wheels, whilst we can give you a preview of the previous week’s sketch of Caliban‘s frames on blocks.The previous week's drawing of Caliban's frames

RMB 1812 lifted for maintenance workOver in the main RSR workshop, the FRT’s former RMB has been lifted for maintenance.

A reminder that there will be working parties will take place at Embsay this next week on Thursday, 16th and Saturday, 18th January. Keith, Fred and George will be present on Thursday and Keith would be grateful for any further assistance that can be offered on either day.

Monday 6th January 2020

A Happy New Year to all readers of the blog. We hope that you enjoyed the Christmas festivities and avoided the seasonal coughs, colds and ‘flu that are around at the moment.

We are pleased to be able to report that some of our members soon put such seasonal distractions to one side and turned out for the working parties over the Christmas period, so well done to them.

Christmas Day itself brought a surprise to those of you who watched Call the Midwife for there was an unexpected fleeting cameo appearance by 5643, allegedly hauling a train from London to Scotland!

John Dixon cleaning out FR 20's bootMost of us who own cars do occasionally take some time to clean out the boot, and Adrian managed to get a photo of a John Dixon applying the vacuum cleaner to FR 20’s own ‘boot’ in readiness for the New Year – just don’t tell Jean!

Keith makes the sparks fly on Wootton HallKeith has been continuing his work on Wootton Hall and is seen here making the sparks fly.

Fred attends to one of FR 20's couplingsMeanwhile Fred has been giving attention to one of FR 20’s couplings.

Phil Bell drills holes in Fluff's running boardIn between finishing the painting of FR 20’s tender brake gear, Phil Bell has been drilling more holes in Fluff‘s running board.

John Davis polishes up one of Fluff's lubrication boxesJohn Davis is seen polishing up one of Fluff‘s lubrication boxes.

Live Steam ready to see in the New Year at the Engine Inn at CarkLive Steam provided a marathon performance on New Year’s Eve at the Engine Inn at Cark, finally finishing at 00.37 for a much needed rest.

Finally, we had the sad task on the 2nd January of saying farewell to Howard Fletcher. It says much for Howard’s popularity that there was standing room only at Ingol Methodist Church as over one hundred friends and members of his family gathered together for the occasion.

Monday 23rd December 2019

A quick update in what will be the last blog this year.

Firstly, Howard Fletcher’s funeral will take place at 11.00am at Ingol Methodist church on Thursday, 2nd January. It is understood that the wake will be held afterwards at the Ribble Steam Railway.

John Dixon repairing FR 20's tender drawgearThere has been a continued push to complete the overhaul of FR 20. John Dixon has carried on with his modification to the tender draw gear.

John Davis cleaning tender brake gearJohn Davis has been cleaning up more of the tender brake gear.

Paul Balshaw painting tender brake blocksEven the brake blocks are receiving a coat of paint, from Paul Balshaw.

Phil Bell painting under the tenderPhil Bell has been doing more painting under the tender.

FR 20's dome after cleaning and paintingFred has cleaned and painted the engine’s dome.

Alan fitting washout plugs to FR 20's boilerAlan has re-fitted the washout plugs in the boiler now that Andy Booth has inserted two new patch screws.

Keith working on one of Fluff's axleboxesMeanwhile, Keith has taken on board the work that Howard was doing to Fluff‘s axleboxes before his untimely death.

There is some good news in that the recently purchased CNC lathe, to which the FRT subscribed, has been successfully commissioned and programmed to produced some stay nuts and boiler stays for Walkden. This has been achieved with the assistance of a couple of people from UCLAN. Alan inspecting the new latheA Colchester lathe has also been purchased and is seen here being inspected by Alan. The cost is being shared with the Ribble Steam Railway and it will replace the lathe previously used by Bill Norcross. Bill has now retired from the workshop and we wish him the very best for the future.

Looking forward, working parties over the Christmas period will take place on Friday, 27th and Saturday, 28th December. These will be followed by working parties on Friday, 3rd and Saturday, 4th January.

Finally, a reminder that Live Steam will be performing their last gig of the year at the Engine Inn at Cark-in-Cartmel on New Year’s Eve.

Before we finish, we would like to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Monday 16th December 2019

We are sorry to have to start this week’s blog with the very sad news that Howard Fletcher, one of our regular working members at Preston, passed away last night. Howard had been taken into hospital last week with a bad nose bleed and was diagnosed with blood pressure issues following which he suffered a stroke. We will publish any more details that we receive in future blogs but, in the meantime, we send our condolences to Howard’s family.

Howard had joined the FRT in recent years from the main RSR workshop and  quickly settled in to become part of the FRT team. He was happy to use his engineering background take on those many fiddly jobs and spent much of his time working on Caliban and Fluff.  We will very much miss him.

Just a short update on work at Preston this week.

Phil Bell painting FR20's tender brake gearPhil Bell is still ensconced with painting the brake gear for FR 20’s tender.

FR 20's boot lid painted at lastAfter 21 years, the underside of the lid for the locker at the rear of FR 20’s tender has finally been painted. Tim decided to line it out as a test piece for painting the rest of the tender.

John Davis painting the underside of FluffJohn Davis has again been painting the underside of Fluff‘s frames.

Keith preparing pipework for Wootton HallKeith has been preparing and test fitting some pipework to Wootton Hall‘s cab.Test fitting pipework on Wootton Hall

The annual FRT Christmas dinner took place at The Hungry Horse restaurant at Lea Gate last Friday and was enjoyed by 22 members and guests. Thanks as ever to Alison for making the arrangements and for reminding us all as to what we had ordered!

Monday 9th December 2019

Work has continued on FRT projects at Preston despite the call on labour to assist with the RSR’s Santa Specials.

John Dixon at work on FR 20's tender drawgearJohn Dixon has continued with repairs to the drawgear on FR 20’s tender.

Phil Bell painting one of FR 20's tender brake hangersTim has been preparing the tender for painting whilst Phil Bell has been busy painting more of the tender brake assembly.

Paul Balshaw, John Dixon and John Davis at work on FluffThere has been more work on Fluff with Paul Balshaw and John Davis painting the running boards and John Dixon making a small alteration to the steelwork.

David Rimmer painting Fluff's framesDavid Rimmer has been adding some more paint to the frames.

Keith painting the floor supports on Wootton Hall's tenderKeith Brewer has received the new floor supports for Wootton Hall‘s tender back from the forge after amendment and, after fitting them, has been applying some paint.

Jen and Alison in festive moodWith the Santa Specials in full swing, Jen, Alison and John Davis have been in festive mood and in charge of FRT sales over the last weekend.John Davis in festive mood

But… Ade not in festive moodSomeone apparently not in festive mood was Sunday’s steam driver, Ade!


Monday 2nd December 2019

A short update this time, just to let you all know that work is still progressing on all fronts, although with little massively new to report.

Tim has been rubbing down the weatherboard on FR 20’s tender, although the sudden news that the overhead wires on the West Coast main line had come down last Wednesday caused him to down tools and jump into Alison’s car for a lift to Carnforth – and what a good move that was with services only recovering the following morning! Work also continued on cleaning and painting the tender brake gear. John Dixon making the sparks fly whilst making a modification to FR 20's tender drawgearJohn Dixon has worked further on his modification to the rear tender drawhook arrangement and is seen here busy with his angle grinder.

John Davis bolting down Fluff's running boardsMore paint has gone on Fluff and John Davis is seen bolting down the running boards.

Finally, with the Ribble Steam Railway’s Santa Specials operating on Saturday and Sunday, Tim and Alan were busy entertaining the passengers on board the trains whilst Alison, Jen and Jim were busy staffing the FRT sales stand. Derek Milby and Jim Kay with the FRT sales stand. Wonder when Jim is due to give birth!Jim is seen along with Derek, who made an appearance on Saturday.


Monday 25th November 2019

Roger removes a stubborn brake hanger pinPhil Bell has now taken on the task of removing the left-hand brake gear from FR 20’s tender and Roger is seen here lending a hand to remove one of the stubborn brake hanger pins.

This will enable some more of the tender chassis as well as the brake gear to be cleaned and repainted. Fred cleans up one of FR 20's tender brake rodsFred immediately went into action to clean off one of the brake rods.

John Dixon cuts a hole in the floor of FR 20's bootJohn Dixon has now turned his attention to repairing and modifying the rear draw hook on the tender. Whilst the tender does have an access hole to the pin that holds the brake gear to the draw spring, it wasn’t sufficiently large to enable a stubborn split pin to be removed in such a confined space. The draw hook pin exposedSo John has now created a large access hole in the bottom of the rear tender locker and as a result the draw hook has now been removed.

Meanwhile Alan managed to locate most of the blanking plates for FR 20’s boiler ready for fitting prior to the hydraulic test.

John Davis paints some of Fluff's control leversJohn Davis has been painting some more of Fluff‘s components.

Adrian was busy shunting coaches last Wednesday ready for the Santa Specials which start this weekend so was unable to progress with Caliban‘s overhaul. Keith and Fred have been back to Embsay once again to attend to 5643 after its washout and the loco was test steamed yesterday.  Thanks to the Embsay Loco Department Facebook page for this atmospheric image:5643's steam test at Embsay

Cumbria was in charge of the first of the Santa Specials there yesterday, and Embsay posted this video leaving Bolton Abbey.

Keith with the left hand cover for the lubrication valves on Wootton Hall's smokeboxBack at Preston Keith has been fabricating new covers for the lubrication valves which are situated on the side of Wootton Hall‘s smokebox. Having successfully made the left-hand one (above) he then spent Sunday progressing the bigger one for the right hand side.Test fitting the right hand valve cover

Also on Sunday Neil brought his daughter Caitlin for her first volunteering visit, and what better way to start her career than under FR 20’s tender cleaning off the muck while the brake gear is out of the way?!Caitlin working on FR 20 This baptism didn’t seem to put her off: she says she wants to come back and do more!

Live Steam at the Dick FestFinally, after their practice last Monday, Live Steam were in action for three gigs at the Ulverston Dickensian Festival over the weekend and are seen in action as they perform the Festival Finale yesterday evening. They have already been invited back to perform at all three venues next year!


Monday 18th November 2019

Phil Bell and John Davis drilling holes in Fluff's running boardFluff‘s makeover continues to progress at a steady pace. Phil Bell and John Davis have been drilling the new plate for the running board.

John Davis painting Fluff's running boardJohn then went on to give the plate a couple of coats of paint.

Fluff's newly painted wheelsMeanwhile David Rimmer has been painting the wheels.

One of the many tweaks that are being applied to FR 20 during its overhaul has been the addition of more dummy rivet heads by John Dixon. Horror of horrors, it had been noted by the rivet counter amongst us that one side of the tender possessed a few more rivets than the other!!! We can now all breathe easy now that this error has been rectified, even though it took 20 years to spot the error! John Dixon cleans up the new rivet heads on Fr 20's tenderJohn is seen tidying up the rivet heads after welding them into place.

Ed cleaning his nutsTim has been on top of the tender to apply a coat of red oxide and Ed Tatham has been cleaning up the nuts that secure the tender tank on to the frames.

Phil and Roger re-fitting FR 20's tender brake gearPhil and Roger spent Friday starting the process of re-fitting the right hand tender brake gear after it had been cleaned and painted. The left hand brake gear had been deliberately left in place in order to act as a guide for the re-fitting process. Turned out to be a wise move!

Fred cleaning up Wootton Hall's tender fillerFred spent last Friday cleaning up Wootton Hall‘s tender filler top after a new section of ring had been welded into place.

Wootton Hall's firehole door mechanism fittedThe recently acquired firehole door mechanism for Wootton Hall has now been cleaned, painted and fitted.

Keith painting Wootton Hall's tender topKeith is seen here putting a spot more paint on Wootton Hall‘s tender top.

Adrian has been making some more progress with Caliban and Keith and Fred have again been over to Embsay to complete the washout of 5643.

Live Steam in a practice sessionWith the Ulverston Dickensian Festival coming up next weekend, Live Steam have been practicing in earnest this afternoon around a plate of mince pies. They will be performing at the Old Friends pub on Saturday evening and then at Abbeyfield House after lunch on Sunday. Finally they will bring down the curtain on the festival on the outdoor Theatre Street stage late on Sunday afternoon. Let’s hope that the weather stays fine.

Tomorrow will see the Trustees meet at Over Kellett where there will no doubt be another pile of food to tackle before they are allowed to go home. However, there might well be the odd left over pieces of cake for Ade on Wednesday!


Monday 11th November 2019

Wootton Hall's tender wheels in the shedThe wheels for Wootton Hall‘s tender have arrived in the shed ready for the new bearings to be scraped in. We are now in the process of procuring some lubricating pads although it seems that there is quite a lead time for these items.

Keith drilling one of Wootton Hall's tender footplate floor supportsMore items have appeared from the forge at Kirkham this week. Keith has been drilling holes in the newly-arrived steel supports for the tender footplate floor.

Footplate floor supports in positionThey have now been fitted into position although some adjustment to their shape is necessary before final fitting.

Howard attending to one of Fluff's axleboxesWork continues on painting the inside of Fluff‘s frames and Howard has been attending to the axleboxes.

Alan sizes up the replacement manifold for CalibanA second-hand replacement manifold for Caliban was the centre of Alan’s attention last Wednesday. It seems that it has been some considerable time since the various components have been dismantled… Give me a long enough leverThe old adage says “give me a long enough lever and I will move the earth”…. I'll get it moved!!… and so Alan attempted to put this into practice with a series of pipes added to the handle of his stilsons! Adrian, famed for his dismantling abilities, joined to finish off the job.

Roger cleaning one of FR 20's tender spectacle plate glassesFred finished cleaning out the top well at the back of FR 20’s tender and Roger completed the rather extended task of removing the protective gaffer tape from FR 20’s spectacle glasses – we won’t be doing that again in a hurry!

John Dixon painting the inside of FR 20's tender framesThe tender tank is almost ready for painting and Phil Bell is also nearly ready to re-fit the first half of the brake rigging after cleaning and painting. John Dixon has again been underneath the tender and is seen giving the inside of the frames some paint.

Finally, as forecast last week, Keith and Fred have been across to Embsay to give 5643 a wash-out prior to the operation of the Santa Specials there.


Monday 4th November 2019

John Dixon puts black gloss on the bottom of the tender footplate floorThe front of FR 20’s tender has come back together now after a strip down for cleaning of the drag box and buffing gear. John Dixon is seen applying a coat of gloss black paint to the underside of the footplate floor last Wednesday before it was lifted back into position on Friday.

Phil Bell paints the inside of FR 20's tender stepsPhil Bell has been back underneath the tender to give the inside of the steps a coat of black paint.

Phil Bell with a selection of FR 20's brake rigging for paintingWe let Phil out from the pit on Friday and he is seen here with a selection of the brake gear for painting.

Even FR 20's brake blocks get a coat of paint, from John DavisEven the brake blocks are getting a coat of paint, from John Davis.

Roger about to remove protective tape from one of the spectacle plate glasses on FR 20's tenderWith the footplate floor back in place, Roger has been removing protective black tape from the spectacle glass windows.

The tender upper almost complete with John Dixon attaching one of the top footplate hand railsJohn has re-installed the hand rail stanchions and is seen fitting one of the top hand rails.

Fred applying a cup wire brush to the well on the back of FR 20's tenderFred spent all of Friday on top of the tender cleaning up the rear well with his trusty cup wire bush.

John Davis applies black gloss paint to the inside of Fluff's framesThere was more progress on Fluff with undercoat on one of the wheelsets and some gloss black paint from John Davis on the inside of the frames.

Finally, Keith is hoping to go across to Embsay next Saturday and Sunday to undertake a washout on 5643. Please let Keith know if you can assist.