Monday 10th January 2022

A belated Happy New Year to all our readers.

There has been no blog for two weeks so there is plenty to report.

The most notable occurrence has been the fitting of Wootton Hall’s tender tank to its chassis last Wednesday. A hi-ab had been procured for the morning to undertake a number of jobs around the RSR’s site and the tender tank was number two on the list.

Up she goesThe tanks was lifted from supporting blocks.

In comes the chassisThen the Ribble Rail lads ensured that the tender chassis was quickly moved underneath.

Down goes the tankThe fitting went every smoothly and the whole job was completed safely in less than 15 minutes. Well done to all.

Keith fitting temporary boltsOnce back inside the shed Keith was busy fitting temporary bolts to hold down the tank.

Caitlin stripping rain stripsThere has been good progress with GER Royal Saloon GER No. 5. Neil and Caitlin came in on the 31st December, Neil to clean the inside of the coach of debris deposited when items were removed from the roof, and Caitlin to strip paint from roof rain strips.

Phil Burton sets up his planerRemoving paint from the wooden side retaining strips has also devoured a great deal of time with Phil Burton seen here setting up a planing machine to clean the straight edges.

John Davis removing paint from retaining stripMeanwhile John Davis used a heat gun on the process.

The corroded gas lamp housingsThe gas lamp housings are being cleaned up by Ed and the corrosion revealed now needs some attention as can be seen here.

Phil Bell plugging old screw holes in the wood retaining piecesPhil Bell has been employed making plugs to fill old screw holes in the retaining strips. Meanwhile Tim has completed the sanding of the roof boards.

Ade cleaning Caliban's chassisNow that Caliban has been lowered on to its wheels, Ade has been undertaking some early spring cleaning.

Sam with the results of excavations in Alan's garageAlan has been emptying his garage and has located some of Caliban’s brass items which Sam brought in for cleaning and storage. Alan and Sam have also been taking measurements of Caliban’s smokebox in order that a quote for a replacement can be obtained.

Finally, Live Steam carried out their New Year’s Eve engagement at the Engine Inn at Cark-in-Cartmel earning the FRT some welcome funds.

A working party is being held tomorrow, Tuesday, to strip the valves from 5643 in anticipation of a re-bore that is due to take place at the end of the month.

A further rearrangement of rolling stock is expected on Wednesday when FR 20 will be brought over the pit in the main shed to enable Alan and Sam to give further attention to the right hand little end.

Monday 20th December 2021

Here we are, last blog of the year!

Wootton Hall's tender chassis in daylight during the shed on Wednesday, 15th December.Christmas may well be nearly upon us but that hasn’t stopped work in the FRT shed. The major happening last Wednesday was a pre-Christmas shunt of the shed which moved Wootton Hall’s tender chassis to the front of the heated section of the shed. It can be seen here making its first appearance in daylight since being re-wheeled earlier in the year. There is a plan to fit the tender tank on top of the chassis on Wednesday, 5th January, hence the need to move it nearer to the shed entrance.

Keith with a tricky piece of metalwork for Wootton Hall's claddingKeith has continued to work on Wootton Hall‘s boiler cladding, making up some of the more difficult (origami?!) pieces around the front of the firebox which bend in various planes.

John Dixon removes one of the end pieces from GER No. 5The last of the bonding compound that held the previous canvas in place has now been removed from the roof of GER Royal Saloon No. 5, and the aforementioned shunt allowed the hydraulic platform to be positioned at the west end of the vehicle to allow the end pieces of wood that hold the canvas in place to be removed.

Phil Burton cleans paint from the roof rain strips for GER No. 5Phil Burton has been removing old paint from the roof rain strips from GER No. 5.

Fred paints the torpedo vents for GER No. 5Fred, having previously cleaned the paint off the torpedo vents, has commenced the task of adding new paint.

John Davis paints Fluff's cabJohn Davis continued his quest to paint every nook and cranny in Fluff‘s cab.

Roger services and cleans the fire pumpRoger spent Friday giving the fire pump a 300 gallon service and clean, in readiness for its next use.

Looking forward, working parties are planned for Wednesday and Friday this week, but the Saturday working party has been cancelled for some reason. (Yes, they all deserve Christmas day off! Ed.) Working parties will resume as normal next Wednesday and Friday (29th and 31st) but will not take place on Saturday, 1st January.

Our folk group, Live Steam, having finished playing Christmas songs and carols for the RSR’s Santa Specials, are planning to perform at the Engine Inn, Cark-in-Cartmel on New Year’s Eve, as long as there are no changes in the Government restrictions by then.

We conclude by wishing  all our readers a very enjoyable and peaceful Christmas!

Monday 13th December 2021

Ade lowering Caliban on 8.12.21A milestone in the overhaul of Caliban was reached on Wednesday when Ade, with assistance from Alan, finally lowered the chassis back onto its wheels. Caliban back on its wheelsJust for the record, the operation went very smoothly with no problems in lining up the axleboxes – for once! Well done!

Virtually all the previous canvas bonding compound has been removed from the roof of GER No. 5, with just a narrow strip on the south side to be tackled. The new canvas and bonding paste arrived last Wednesday so we look forward to seeing that laid on the roof in the New Year, once the roof has been sanded and received a coat of primer.

Fluff's controls laid out for paintingSome of Fluff‘s cab controls have been cleaned up and have been laid out ready for painting.

Keith tapping a hole in Wootton Hall's claddingWork on Wootton Hall has continued with Keith seen here tapping a hole in the cladding, most of which has now been fitted. Current status of Wootton Hall's claddingThere remain the tricky items to fabricate and fit around the front corners of the firebox.

Talking things Great Western, there’s been another stunning photo of 5643 on the East Lancashire Railway…

Finally, the latest edition of The Iron Horse has been proof read and despatched back to the printer so, hopefully, you will all receive your copy in time for Christmas.

Monday 6th December 2021

Already it’s the last month of the year – how have we got here so quickly?!

Tim and Phil Burton at work on GER No. 5There was a real push this last week to clear the roof of GER Royal Saloon No. 5 from the bonding compound that had held down the previous canvas. It has been a long job with around 500 square feet of wood to clean, heat guns and scrapers being the most efficient method. Phil Burton scraping away the old canvas bonding compound . Progress can clearly be seen.Phil Burton (seen here), Ed, Paul Balshaw, John Dixon and Tim have all spent time on the job this week and we are now on the last lap. It will then be necessary to sand down the wood and apply a coat of primer before tackling the job of fitting the new canvas.

Ade in the process of lowering Caliban's frames still furtherAde has managed to spend some more time on Caliban when not shunting Christmas coaches for the RSR. He is seen here lowering Caliban‘s frames closer towards the axleboxes.

Phil Bell reaming out a hole for the taper pin to hold Fluff's right hand coupling rod in placePhil Bell and John Davis have still been finding work to do on Fluff with Phil reaming out a hole for one of the taper pins that holds the right hand coupling rod in position.

Keith riveting a boiler band cleatKeith is still working on the boiler cladding for Wootton Hall and has been riveting the end cleats to the boiler bands.

John Dixon working on the new gas bottle cageThe new cage for the gas bottles has not been forgotten and John Dixon has been progressing with this project when not working on GER No. 5’s roof.

A one man orchestraFinally, whether we like it or not, the festive period has most definitely arrived with Keith and Ade driving the RSR’s Santa trains over the weekend. Given the current Covid situation, it was agreed that Alan and Tim would this year play Christmas songs and carols at the entrance to the museum rather than on the trains. Alan is seen here using a kazoo to add to the sound, with err a mixed reception!?!

Monday 29th November 2021

Another short update this week – but that doesn’t mean that nothing has been happening.

Jon Dixon, Alan and Neil Glover during FR 20's boiler wash out on Wednesday, 24th November 2021The main news is that a washout of FR 20’s boiler was successfully carried out last Wednesday, the first to be undertaken using the Coventry Climax fire pump that was purchased just before the first lock down. Former members Jon Dixon and Neil Glover, who are used to dealing with fire pumps, came to give us a hand and, after setting everything up carefully, everything worked and went to plan! (How did that happen, you may ask?!!) The photo shows Jon aiming the water into a plug hole in FR 20’s front tubeplate whilst Neil controls the fire pump and Alan inspects the colour of the water running out of the firebox plug holes. The purpose of using the fire pump is that it can deliver water into the boiler at a far greater pressure than from the mains and so be more efficient in removing sludge and scale. The big question that needed answering was whether the pump would be able to lift the feed water from the tender tank through the suction hoses; the answer was a very positive yes. We are grateful to Jon and Neil for their assistance and hope that Jon managed to clean himself up after managing to get himself covered in a mixture of soot and water!

There was progress with Caliban and Fluff during the week, while John Dixon, Ed and Tim made further inroads into removing the previous bonding paste from the roof of GER Royal Saloon No. 5. Also, Keith managed to fit Wootton Hall‘s tender vacuum cylinder into place.

Both GWR 0-6-2T 5643 and ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Cumbria were due to haul trains at Bury and Embsay respectively over the weekend and we are pleased to be able to include some seasonal photos of Cumbria in action courtesy of Matt Anderson of the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway……

… and to share again (we did already on the FRT Twitter account) this lovely picture of 5643.5643 Credit Liam Barnes

Finally, Alan informs us that the latest edition of The Iron Horse magazine is ready to go to the printer and, all being well, the aim is to post it out to members before Christmas.

Monday 22nd November 2021

A short update this week.

John DAvis jacks up Fluff whilst Phil Bell adjusts the wheels to accept the rods.Phil Bell and John Davis made further progress with Fluff by re-fitting the rods, which went back on with little bother once the wheels had been lined up. We still await the new cab roof and there are no doubt many other jobs to complete.

John Dixon chips away at the roof bonding compound on GER No. 5Should John and Phil ever run out of work, we can surely point them towards the roof of GER No.5 where, having removed the lamp housings, vents, conduit and canvas, there is now the tedious task of removing the canvas bonding compound, some of which is resolutely stuck fast to the wooden roof planks. Ed and John Dixon have made a start but it seems that heat guns are the solution to the problem.

Alan admiring his modified nozzleWith the fire pump now in operational order, we are now looking towards what we need to do to use it to conduct a high pressure boiler wash out. In advance of a gathering this next Wednesday to progress the project, Alan has come up with a modified hose branch which should manage to aim the water to all the required nooks and crannies on FR 20’s boiler. With the right hand piston rod cotter adjustments now completed we will be able to move the loco outside the shed with the first job being to drop the existing water in the boiler.

Monday 15th November 2021

Roger and the fire pumpAt 14.45 on Friday, the peace of the FRT shed was shattered without warning by the earthy roar of a Coventry Climax engine, announcing to all that the three days of work that Roger had expended on the fire pump had been successful. Well done, Roger! We now need to see how the machine copes with washing out a locomotive boiler!

Ed and John Dixon on the magic carpetThere has been further progress on clearing the roof of GER Royal Saloon No. 5 with Ed and John seen here working in tandem on the magic carpet to remove the remaining rain strips and canvas.

Fred with two more cleaned up vents for GER 5Fred has once again been cleaning up the torpedo vents – usually two in a day. Yet more cup wire brushes to order!

Anne and Phil Burton progressing the upholstery on GER 5 in the mess roomiAnne and Phil Burton have been making steady progress on the upholstery in GER No. 5. They have obtained some cheaper moquette with which to practice on re-covering the cushions.

Anne and Phil with the first test cushionThe finished article looks pretty good. They aim to have one more practice cushion before the selected, rather more expensive, moquette is purchased, which we feel will be more appropriate for a royal saloon.

The third right hand cladding sheet goes on Wootton Hall's boilerMore progress has been made with fitting the cladding on 4979 Wootton Hall’s boiler. It is a team job to get the sheets on top of the boiler as can be seen here.

Looking better and betterThe third sheet on the right hand side has now been fitted.

Tim pausing from work in Wotton Hall's cabMeanwhile, Tim has been devoting his time recently to tidying up 4979’s fabricated cab side stanchions with filler so that they look more like Swindon manufactured pressings. The cab sides are also starting to receive attention where they have suffered after having been exposed to 50 years of the elements.

Alan reaching down to grab the cotter on FR 20 for one more adjustment!Elsewhere, Ade has, amongst other things, been fitting brake blocks to Caliban’s chassis. Alan and Sam have been adjusting the miscreant piston rod cotter on FR 20. Incidentally, there is now video footage available from a cab mounted camera of FR 20’s first trip in service on the RSR after overhaul:

Monday 8th November 2021

A short update this week.

Timber packing on Wootton Hall's tenderWe are pleased to report further progress with Wootton Hall with the wooden packing on the tender frames dovetailed together and all but complete. Once finished it will then be possible to plan lifting the tender tank on to the frames where it can be more easily repaired inside the shed.

Stanlow piped up to Wootton Hall's tender brake cylinderThe opportunity was taken last Wednesday to test the tender brake cylinder which has been refurbished. The cylinder was taken around to the Ribble Steam Railway running shed where it was connected up to vacuum braked diesel shunter Stanlow. Keith and Duncan Sawyer are seen ensuring the connections are correct.

The pipework involved in the testing of the vacuum cylinderThe pipework involved is seen here and it appears that the test was successful.

Live Steam in action on Platform 3 at Lancaster 03.11.21Last Wednesday also saw our folk group, Live Steam, performing on platform 3 at Lancaster station as part of the finale to the Furness Railway 175 celebrations. The lads are seen here sitting down for their lengthy second set of railway songs.

Monday 1st November 2021

After the excitement of seeing FR 20 enter traffic on the 23rd October, it has been back to work in the FRT shed this week.

Further progress has been made with the temporary fitting of boiler cladding sheets to Wootton Hall.

Keith warmmng up a handrail stanchion in order to remove it so that boiler cladding can be fittedFirst, Keith had to remove handrail stanchions to enable the cladding to be fitted. Needless to say, after many years out in the open, the stanchions needed some heat treatment before they could be unscrewed and removed.

Preparing the sheet for liftingAlthough of fairly thin steel sheet, they are heavier than you would think when it comes to lifting them up on to a locomotive boiler.Up goes the steel sheet The photos show the number of people required for lifting the second of the right hand cladding sheets.

Sam standing by the first two right hand steel sheets fittedSam stands alongside the second fitted sheet.

John Davis painting one of Fluff's rodsWith the upper superstructure of Fluff now virtually complete, Phil and John Davis have been turning their attention to the side rods, which seem to have suffered from the weather on one side. However, after the application of a thin layer of filler applied by Tim, John was soon able to apply a coat of primer.

Roger Benbow examining the fire pumpFinally, the saga of the fire pump continues with Roger spending some time trying to obtain a spark from the plugs. The pump has been brought into the FRT shed where it is hoped the drier atmosphere will assist the magneto to do its job.

Monday 25th October 2021

The main news this week surrounds Furness Railway No. 20 which, as forecast in last week’s blog, was scheduled to re-enter service on Saturday after its overhaul. The poor weather last Wednesday morning meant that it was sensible to delay the transfer of the loco to the RSR’s running shed until the afternoon. Sam and Alan fit joints to the valve spindle tail rod covers on FR 20, watched by John DixonThis allowed time for Alan and Sam to make and fit new joints for the valve spindle tail rod covers which had been leaking steam during previous running in trials. An adjustment was also made to the right hand crosshead cotter, not easy without a pit and with ballast pressing into your back!

One of the new brake shaft collars on FR 20's tenderJohn Dixon also took the opportunity to fit the four tender brake shaft collars that were made twenty-three years ago and never fitted! Whilst not vital to the running of the loco, it was a case of finishing the job as it was originally designed back in 1863! Can you spot the difference?

FR 20 ready for a warming fire on Friday, 2nd October 2021FR 20 was pulled out of the running shed on Friday morning for John Dixon to light a warming fire, again the rain coming down in torrents at times.

Half a dozen FRT members were up early on Saturday morning to prepare both FR 20 and Bagnall 0-6-0ST Courageous, the latter to be used as back up in view of it being FR 20’s first day in traffic. Tim, Stewart and Jack crewed  FR 20 with Ade and Sam preparing Courageous and Alan riding FR 20 as engineer. It was heartening to see that word had got around that FR 20 was back and the car park was filling nicely. FR 20 in Riverside station with the 11.00 train on Saturday, 23rd OctoberIn short, FR 20 ran all its scheduled five trips with Courageous being added to the rear of the train at 12.00 and onwards after some knocking from the right hand cross head on FR 20 suggested that caution should prevail. The good news is that the new tender white metal bearings appear to be a success with FR 20 rolling freely and with no signs of any unwanted warmth from the axleboxes. Fortunately, the weather played ball with us on Saturday and there were plenty of people travelling and taking photographs, including a gentleman who had travelled all the way from Northampton to see FR 20. All in all, a very pleasant day and a fitting conclusion for all those who had worked so hard on FR 20 during its overhaul.

As ever, though, work has also been proceeding on the FRT’s other projects. Neil Glover cleans the fuel stop valve whilst Ade performs the vital task of stooping the fuel flowing from the tank!Former member Neil Glover appeared on Wednesday to examine the fire pump that the Trust had acquired pre-Covid for the purpose of improving boiler wash out facilities. Neil is seen unblocking the fuel cut off switch whilst Ade has his finger over the open pipe from the fuel tank. Unfortunately, after attaining a flow of fuel, it was wasn’t possible to gain a spark at the spark plugs which Neil put down to a damp magneto. Roger Benbow, who successfully brought Simplex Rachael back to life at Haverthwaite recently, had a look at the pump on Friday and has promised to return with his tool box this week to have a more detailed look at the magneto.

Ed having a knees up under Wootton Hall's boilerWe noted the arrival of Wootton Hall‘s boiler cladding sheets in last week’s blog so it will come as no surprise that Keith has been busy fitting them to the boiler. Ed is seen underneath the boiler, apparently using his knees to keep a cladding sheet in place.

The first boiler cladding sheet on Wootton HallThe first finished right hand sheet can be seen here.

The new wooden packing for Wootton Hall's tenderThe hardwood for the packing between the top of Wootton Hall’s tender frames and the tank has also arrived and RSR’s joiner John Morgan has started to make the dovetail joints.

John Dixon working on the new lock up cage for the FRT's gas bottlesJohn Dixon has been busy with the creation of a new storage cage for the FRT’s gas bottles.

Looking forward, the Ribble Steam Railway’s AGM will take place tomorrow, Tuesday evening, at the Railway’s Museum at 8 pm.

The 175 celebrations banner on Lancaster Station footbridgeAnd the final Furness Railway 175 event will take place at Lancaster station on Wednesday, 3rd November from 10.45 onwards with Live Steam being invited to make an appearance to render some railway songs for the occasion. A banner has been erected on the newly redecorated footbridge at Lancaster station on which the sharp-eyed of you will identify the FRT’s logo amongst the many others who have supported the events over the summer.