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.


Monday 28th October 2019

There is more steady progress to report this week at Preston.

John Dixon with FR 20's tender cab floorJohn Dixon has been working on FR 20’s tender footplate. It was originally slightly short of metal on the up-curve next to the coal hole, which had previously been overcome with the temporary expedient (20 years ago!) of being filled with fibreglass. Over time some of the fibreglass has broken up and so a proper job is now being undertaken this time around.

Phil Bell cleaning one of FR 20's tender brake hangersTim continues to prepare the tender tank and outside frames for painting whilst the brake rigging is also in the process of receiving a fresh coat of paint and Phil Bell is seen cleaning up one of the brake hangers.

Fred cleaning one of FR 20's brake pinsFred has been cleaning up some of the brake pins.

Roger reaching to places where no others have penetrated for yearsMeanwhile Roger has been undertaking a long overdue clear out of the rear storage box on the tender, reaching into areas where no one has dared to explore for years!

John Davis adjusting Fluff's cab pedalFluff is slowly going back together and John Davis is pictured adjusting the cab foot pedal under the watchful gaze of Howard and John Dixon.

Ade lifts one of Caliban's axleboxes into positionAde has again been attending to the axleboxes on Caliban.

Keith shaping one of Wootton Hall's injector delivery pipesKeith has been shaping the injector delivery pipes for Wootton Hall.

Keith has also been over to Embsay where 5643 sprung a steam leak at a joint with the main steam pipe a couple of weeks ago. A loose stud was eventually found to be the cause of the problem and, after Keith had fitted a replacement, the locomotive was successfully tested this week. A wash out is now due before the start of the Santa Specials, so please let Keith know if you are able to assist.


Monday 21st October 2019

It has been another week of working away steadily at the FRT’s ongoing projects.

Firstly we can report that, after a thorough clean and re-paint, FR 20’s front tender drag box is in the process of reassembly. The heavy buffing spring was lifted back into position and then the even heavier drag box cover plate was put back on Friday. John Dixon giving FR 20' s tender some thoughtJohn Dixon is seen here giving the matter some deep thought!

The engine spring that was removed from FR 20 the previous week was despatched to the spring manufacturer last Wednesday to act as a template for replacement narrower springs which George, after undertaking a complex calculation, has deemed appropriate for the job. Phil Bell and John Davis work to remove a brake hanger on FR 20's tenderUnderneath the tender, John Davis and Phil Bell have dismantled the right hand tender brake hangers for cleaning and painting and to give access to the frames. This has created further work for Fred who will no doubt be pleased to learn that a new batch of cup wire brushes has arrived!

Ade has been busy fettling the axlebox lubrication on Caliban whilst there has been further progress on cleaning the frames and axleboxes on Fluff. Howard happy at his workHoward seems very happy at his work on Fluff.

And finally, Keith has been assembling more pipework in Wootton Hall‘s cab.


Monday 14th October 2019

It has been one of those weeks where work has been steady but generally unspectacular in the way of results.

FR 20’s tender continues to be sanded down by Tim, who is taking the opportunity to sort out the odd blemish in the steelwork with filler that time did not permit first time around.

Roger painting the interior of FR 20's front tender drag boxWork on the tender front drag box is progressing well with Roger applying a top coat of paint to the interior.

John Dixon painting the cover for the tender drag box on FR 20John Dixon has been putting top coat black to the draw bar, buffing spring and also the drag box cover.

Fred cleaning up FR 20's hand brake with John Davis on the leftFred has been cleaning up the tender handbrake (foreground) whilst John Davis (left) has been cleaning up axleboxes from Fluff.

One of FR 20's engine springsTim, Alan and Adrian gathered to jack up the rear of FR 20’s engine in order to release a spring. This is to be sent away to act as a pattern for a narrower set of springs that will be more appropriate to the engine’s weight, which has reduced to 25 tons rather than the 36 tons it had been as a saddletank.

Newly fitted splasher supporting one of Wootton hall's nameplatesKeith has completed the metalwork for the new splashers for Wootton Hall, one of which is seen supporting one of its nameplates.

Secondhand ejector elbow for Wootton HallKeith was able to purchase from the Worth Valley Railway a second-hand ejector elbow..

Second-hand firehole door mechanism for Wootton Hall.. and also second-hand firehole door mechanism for Wootton Hall.

There was also more work carried out on Caliban.

Finally, for those of you who use Amazon to purchase goods, you may be interested to learn that if you opt to use the Amazon Smile web site instead, you can make a small donation to the Furness Railway Trust on every item that you purchase. You should find making the Furness Railway Trust as your preferred charity a fairly simple task.

Monday 7th October 2019

Work has continued on Furness Railway No. 20 this week. Andy Booth has completed his work on the tubes and we need to think about fitting blanks ready for a hydraulic test. There are a couple of corner firebox screws to attend to as well.

John Dixon with the magnetic drillJohn Dixon has been creating a bar to be fitted on to the floor of the front tender drag box to support the buffing spring. He is seen here at work with the magnetic drill.

John Davis and Phil Bell under FR 20's tenderPhil Bell, seen with John Davis, has continued his work below the tender frames which includes the dismantling of some of the brake rigging to allow access to the frames and for cleaning.

Tim sands down FR 20's tenderTim has continued the task of sanding down the tender paintwork.

Alan and Adrian with a new felt pad in one of Caliban's axleboxesAdrian and Alan have been engaged on the task of fitting new felt lubrication pads into Caliban‘s axleboxes.

Howard filingWe haven’t seen many photographs of Howard lately so here is one of him filing down a metal insert into Fluff‘s new running board.

John Davis cleaning up one of Fluff's springsJohn Davis has been cleaning up Fluff‘s springs.

One of Wootton Hall's tender axlebox bearings in the process of being machinedWork has also continued this week on Wootton Hall‘s new splashers and the machining the newly white-metalled tender bearings, one of which is shown here.

The 'new' CNC machine arrivesA second-hand CNC machine, the purchase cost being subscribed to by the FRT, arrived at Preston on Wednesday and has been positioned in the RSR workshop.

The Ribble Steam Railway Diesel Gala took place last weekend and Class 14 D9539 hauled one of the evening trains for the Folk Evening.

Geoff Middleton ready to pipe in the last Folk TrainGeoff Middleton was on hand to pipe in the last train.

Can you believe it???Meanwhile brother Alan entertained as a one man band.

Cumbria back in actionOver at Embsay, Cumbria made a successful return to traffic with the Sunday dining train (thanks to the Embsay loco group’s Facebook for the picture) while 5643 is lined up for a few repairs this week.

Finally, don’t forget the annual Barrow Model Railway exhibition which takes place at Barrow’s 6th Form College this weekend.

Monday 29th September 2019

After an enforced break of a week, there is plenty to look back on over the past fortnight.

Further work has been carried out on FR 20’s boiler by Andy Booth and it is hoped to have the job of expanding and beading over the tubes finished this next week. The tender has received plenty of attention with John Dixon leading the task of examining and cleaning up the front drag box. John Dixon removing the fall plate on FR 20's tenderFirst it was necessary to remove the curved fall plate, the bridging piece between the tender and the engine.

Ade wields the sledgehammer on the recalcitrant buffer spring pinOnce the tender floor plate had been removed, there was then the more difficult task of removing the thick plate directly above the drag box which could not be moved until both the draw bar pin and the buffing spring pin had been removed. The latter was found to be seized in the lower base plate and so it was time to call in Ade, who has “previous” in taking apart those things that don’t want to come apart! With assistance from Tim also, the pin was finally extracted late last Wednesday afternoon after many applications of jack, heat and a sledgehammer. Ade is seen here at work with the latter, watched by John Dixon, Keith Brewer and Neil Glover.

It was then just a case of getting four pairs of hands to remove the main plate and to expose the drag box for the first time in over twenty years.

John Dixon and Roger cleaning the front drag box on FR 20's tenderOnce two of the buffer guides and the buffers had been removed, Roger then assisted John last Friday in the task of cleaning up the drag box.

John Dixon applies a coat of primer to FR 20's front tender drag boxA coat of bright orange primer was then applied.

Phil Bell cleaning under FR20's tenderMeanwhile Tim has been sanding down the one of the tender sides and Phil Bell has been cleaning the tender brake rigging.

Fred cleaning up FR20's tender springs and hangersFred has been busying himself cleaning the tender springs and hangers.

Keith cutting new steel plate for Fluff's running boardKeith has been cutting out new sheet metal for Fluff‘s running board.

A new running board plate is lifted into position on FluffThis was then successfully lifted into position and fitted.

Paul Balshaw commences the task of jacking up FluffPaul Balshaw commenced the task of jacking up Fluff last Wednesday so that the wheels could be removed and axleboxes examined.

Phil Bell moving one of Fluff's wheelsets once the frames were high enoughPhil Bell is seen moving the wheels once the frames had been jacked high enough.Fluff's wheels extracted from under the frames

New splashers for Wootton HallKeith has also been concentrating his time recently in manufacturing new splashers for Wootton Hall.

Over at Embsay, Cumbria passed its statutory cold boiler examination on 16th September and, after re-assembly of its fittings, was given a test steaming last Thursday. This confirmed that the recent efforts of Charles Adams and his team had been successful in resolving the passing of steam through the regulator valve when closed. Also tested was the brake valve which had undergone a rebuild by Barry Gambles of South Coast Steam. The end stop broken away from Cumbria's regulator quadrantDisappointingly, the newly acquired regulator quadrant fell at the first hurdle with the end stop coming adrift.

The repaired regulator quadrantThis has now been successfully repaired and re-fitted.

We now await the formal steam test with the boiler surveyor after which, all being well, there will be a carefully monitored return to service. Cumbria back in steam againIn the meantime we show a photo of Cumbria whilst shunting during its test steaming.

A reminder that the Ribble Steam Railway’s Diesel Gala takes place next Saturday and Sunday with a Folk Evening next Saturday evening.

Monday 16th September 2019

Alan with one of Caliban's bearingsMore good progress was made with Caliban last Wednesday with Alan tackling the job of scraping in the newly re-metalled bearings.

Ade testing the fit of one of Caliban's spring support pinsWith the vision of the locomotive being lowered back on to its wheels in the not too distant future, Ade was checking the spring support pins.

One of Caliban's newly lined-out wheelsAlso achieved last Wednesday, in good time before the lowering of the loco, was the lining out of Caliban‘s wheels.

FR 20's frames make a rare appearance outside the shedAs forecast in last week’s blog, Ade conducted a shunt which enabled Fluff and FR 20, complete with tender, to be positioned on road three of the heated section of the FRT shed in readiness for the winter work programme. Fortunately it was possible to do the shunt whilst the rain held off and FR 20’s frames made a rare appearance out in the open.

New line up in the shedThe new line up in the shed is seen here.

Phil Bell, Fred and Roger soon got to grips on Friday with the task of cleaning up FR 20’s tender frames and brake gear.

5643 has been in operation at Embsay but unfortunately suffered a leaking mudhole gasket on Saturday. After a number of ‘phone calls and texts, fresh lead mudhole joints were supplied on Saturday evening from Tim’s strategic store in his garage. Mrs O was extremely surprised that the lead rings were found by Tim in a matter seconds whereas the more normal search for bicycle pumps, inner tubes and helmets always takes many times longer!

Monday 9th September 2019

FR 20's tender frames about to be lowered on to its wheelsFR 20’s tender chassis was duly reunited with its wheels last Wednesday although the blustery wind did its damndest to try and make life difficult for us.

FR 20's tender being shunted around to the FRT shedHowever, patience paid off and, after a successful struggle in damp conditions to re-fit the brake gear, the tender was shunted around to the FRT shed late afternoon after Ade had shunted around some more coaches for the RSR.

The good news is that the tender appeared to roll well after the work to convert its bearings from brass to white metal. We hope that this is a good omen for the future. Other news on FR 20 is that Andy Booth has made more progress in beading over the tubes in the boiler and hopes to complete the task this week.

With FR 20’s tender wheels now tucked under its frames, Ade wasted no time in bringing Caliban‘s wheels into the FRT shed for the newly white-metalled bearings to be scraped in.

It is now intended to rearrange the line up on road three of the FRT shed this coming Wednesday so most of Friday was spent in tidying up the shed in readiness for the shunt. Whilst you don’t get quite the same satisfaction from doing this kind of housework, it should make life much better for us as we move towards this winter’s work programme. FRT shed before shuntingWe show here a last look at the FRT shed before items are moved around, with FR 20’s boiler (left), Fluff‘s frames (foreground), Caliban (distant left), FR 20’s engine frames and Wootton Hall‘s tender frames (distant right).

There is disappointing news this week in that Jim Hanmer and Alan Preston are having to abandon their current attempts to resurrect Fluff‘s engine, mainly because of the difficulty in tracing replacement components. The engine is being reassembled in its current state and we will have to consider whether it is worth further pursuing the repair of the existing engine or perhaps finding a suitable replacement. Phil Bell painting one of Fluff's cabs sidesIn the meantime work has continued in rebuilding the platework and assembling other components, with Phil Bell giving the newly fabricated cab sides a coat of red oxide.

New badge of CalibanFinally, on the sales side, Alison informs us that she now has a brand new badge depicting Caliban for sale. Please contact either Alison or Alan if you would like to purchase one, with a special members’ rate available.

Monday 2nd September 2019

As we head into the Autumn period there are signs of things starting to come together with some of our projects.

Axleboxes mounted on FR 20's tender wheelsWednesday saw FR 20’s tender axleboxes being re-assembled and mounted on the journals. This is in readiness for the arrival of a crane this next Wednesday morning when it is planned to place the tender back on its wheels.

This exercise will not only enable the cleaning down and re-painting of the tender and attention to the brake gear to take place in the coming weeks, but will also allow room in the shed for Caliban‘s wheels to be accommodated so that the bearings can be scraped in. Once this is achieved we can look towards lowering Caliban back on to its wheels as well. After that it will be the turn of Wootton Hall‘s tender wheels to come in for its axlebox bearings to be worked upon.

Keith silver solderingWe include a photo this week of Keith silver soldering a flange on to a piece of Wootton Hall‘s injector pipework.

Over at Embsay there has been significant progress with Cumbria. A new regulator gland has been cast and machined following the discovery of a fracture in the old regulator gland. This has now been fitted and packed along with a replacement regulator quadrant.New and old regulator glands for Cumbria

The regulator has been reassembled in the dome after much work to remove side play and to ensure that surfaces are compatible. The hole in the link rod has been opened up to receive a new pin and the main and pilot valves modified to suit. The boiler surveyor will be undertaking the cold inspection of the boiler on Thursday and, subject to a satisfactory report, the boiler will be reassembled for a steam test. Fingers crossed! We are indebted to Charles Adams and Andrew Hirst for their work on Cumbria in recent weeks.