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, Keith 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.

 

Monday 11th March 2019

Last Wednesday’s working party included an optional visit with RSR colleagues to the Commercial Vehicle Museum at Leyland, which was very much enjoyed by those who went. Some went off afterwards to review the learning points from the visit in one of the local hostelries (!) whilst others returned to Preston to continue their work on the FRT’s current projects.

Phil Bell and John Dixon getting to grips with cleaning Cumbria's motion and framesA great deal of progress was made on both Wednesday and Friday with the thorough clean being given to Cumbria. Roger, Phil Bell,  and John Dixon have concentrated their efforts on the frames, motion and brake rigging whilst John Davis worked on the wheels.

Cumbria's J pipe after machiningMatt Jervis had successfully removed the ‘J’ pipe from the boiler which was subsequently machined by Bill Norcross.

Bob with Cumbria's regulator valveBob and Tim spent all their time on Friday (strictly limited number of tea breaks!) in their efforts to produce flat polished surfaces on both the regulator valve and ‘J’ pipe faces. Keith had kindly manufactured a flat steel plate to size with which to apply the carborundum paste although one or two high spots on the cast iron ‘J’ pipe needed some rather more aggressive attention! The task is still quite a way from completion and more work is planned for this next week.

Over at Embsay, Matt has successfully reamed and tapped out the three stay holes on the backhead of 5643’s firebox. On Saturday he then fitted and caulked up the  new stays, which had conveniently arrived at Preston on Friday. A working party is planned for next Saturday during which it is hoped to conduct a washout of the boiler after which, if all is well, a warming fire will be lit in anticipation of a steam test next Sunday.

And as usual, there was further work this week on Fluff, with Howard making an additional visit on Friday to surprise us all!

Monday 4th March 2019

There may have been a fortnight’s gap in publishing a blog, but you can be assured that there has been plenty of work going on during that time.

Ade tries out the cherry pickerA major project completed has been the installation of the new overhead safety wire system on road three of both the heated and unheated sections of the FRT shed. Wednesday, 20th February was spent on moving various pieces of equipment out of the way and taking delivery of a cherry picker and tower scaffold for use of the installers. That didn’t stop Adrian getting a few instructions on how to operate the cherry picker in order that it could be stowed away safely overnight.

There was a very early start on Thursday, 21st February as the rolling stock on road three had to be removed by 8 o’clock so as not to delay the installation process. Adrian, Mike, John Dixon and Tim duly appeared in good time for this to happen. Diesel shunter Stanlow No. 4 had been moved around to the Ribble Rail shed the previous day in readiness for the early start.

A lindapter being fitted to carry the new safety wireFortunately, despite a short power outage, work progressed steadily during the day. John Dixon and Mike getting on with the housework with the rolling stock out of the wayWith the rolling stock now out of the way, the opportunity was also taken to undertake a thorough clean of the central section of the shed including the pit.

Mike being rigged upMike Rigg volunteered to try on one of the new harnesses and is seen here getting rigged up (geddit?!) with the assistance of Joe Jackson from Trad Safety Systems. Rear view of Mike in his harnessA rear view of Mike shows the correct position, between the shoulder blades, for the metal loop to which the back strap should be attached. The installers finished a little later than planned, but all the rolling stock was back in the shed by 17.30 and Stanlow moved back home to the main running shed.  A full operating instruction for the overhead safety wire system has been written and is available both in the mess room and in the harness storage drawer in the shed filing cabinet.

A new look in the shed with Cumbria and FR 20 over the pitOne side benefit from the upheaval in the shed was the opportunity to re-marshal the rolling stock so that Cumbria and FR 20 could be positioned over the pit to assist maintenance and repairs.

Meanwhile, we have been keeping Matt Jervis busy as he and Keith paid a visit to Embsay last Tuesday to remove three stays from 5643’s firebox backhead for replacement. A further visit is planned shortly to ream and tap out the holes after which new stays will be ordered. Matt has also been involved with the removal of Cumbria‘s regulator valve and ‘J’ pipe. The worn faces on the ‘J’ pipe are a clear indication of the cause of the passing of steam whilst the regulator has supposedly been shut.

With Cumbria now more accessible over the pit, more hours have been spent in removing a build up of oily dirt from the frames, brake rigging and motion. Although there will be more to do in the coming weeks, there has already been a vast improvement in the state of the loco.

Keith cuts up the old tender tank for Wootton HallOutside, Keith has been busy on repairs to the newly acquired tender tank for Wootton Hall and also in cutting up the original which, unfortunately, was well past being repaired. Alan has been loosening nuts with a view to removing FR 20’s valve chest cover and Adrian has been undercoating Caliban‘s frames. Work on Fluff progresses as well.

 

Monday 18th February 2019

We never seem to be short anything to do at the moment.

The boiler surveyor inspector examined FR 20’s boiler last Tuesday and, apart from a couple of issues, found it to be in good health. There are two corner screws to change as the heads inside the firebox have wasted and the ‘J’ pipe needs to be examined further to check against possible corrosion.

The main event on Wednesday was to conduct a wash out on Cumbria. There was a fair amount of scale on the foundation ring so John, Tim and Ade all took turns in blasting it with the water pump lance and scraping out the sediment. Ade in between Cumbria's frames with the water lanceAde is pictured here under the frames with the lance.

Ade ready for a shuntAde also received some driving instruction on Sentinel diesels and is seen here about Cumbria ready to do the shunt at the end of the washout.

There was further progress on Fluff with John Davis, Howard and Phil Bell all contributing to the task. We now have two Phils on a Wednesday, the other doing a good job cleaning up Cumbria‘s cab.

A wheelset from FR20 in the latheJeff Nixon at CMS Cepcor managed to find a slot on Thursday to undertake the skimming of the journals on FR 20’s tender wheelsets. He kindly sent us some footage of one of the wheelsets in the lathe.

John Dixon fastens down Fr 20's cab floorAfter having gloss painted FR 20’s drag box and underside of the cab floor on Wednesday, John then bolted down the floor on Friday.

Roger cleans between Cumbria's framesRoger kindly took on the task of cleaning Cumbria between the frames, making use of his head torch.

Fred cleans scale out of Wootton Hall's tender tankBob was missing from Friday’s working party (too busy consulting his lawyer regarding scurrilous accusations in a previous blog?!), however Fred spent his time cleaning out scale from the floor of Wootton Hall‘s tender tank.

Bill Norcross machines a tender axlebox underkeep for Wootton Hall.Bill Norcross has been busy machining the new underkeeps for Wootton Hall‘s tender axleboxes.The axlebox keep being milled

Alan clean's up FR 20's firebox tube plateAfter Alan had inspected and cleaned the tubeholes on FR 20’s boiler, Friday afternoon was spent loading the new tubes into place. A supply chain was set up to hand over the tubes to Tim and John Dixon, who placed them into the boiler and applied suitable force where necessary. Meanwhile Alan spent his time in the firebox guiding the tubes into the correct hole and shouting suitable forms of encouragement to those loading the tubes. All in all, a very busy couple of hours!

George appeared on Saturday and did some work on Cumbria‘s steam brake.

The installation of a new overhead safety wire system is booked for this coming Thursday. The rolling stock will have to be moved out of road three in both the heated and unheated sections of the shed by 08.00 to enable access for both a cherry picker and tower scaffold, which are due to be delivered to site on Wednesday. There will also be a need to move various items out of the way on Wednesday to enable the work to take place. There will be training on the new safety system at the end of the day on Thursday, so all are welcome to attend. Hopefully, everything will be back to normal the following week.

We have received details of the funeral of former Live Steam guitarist, Stuart Bennett (see last week’s blog). A service will be held on Friday 1st March at 10.30 in St. James’ Church, Blake Street, Barrow followed by cremation and a wake, provisionally to be held at the Royal British Legion in Holker Street.

Please note that owing to the Blog Putter Upper going off on a jolly abroad next week without his laptop, there will be no blog next Monday.

Monday 11th February 2019

We start this week’s blog with profuse apologies to Bob. Last week’s publication erroneously summed up Bob’s contribution as “poring over drawings, sensibly in close proximity to the kettle in the warmth of the mess room.” However, it appears that our Friday correspondent had not done his homework and Bob assures us that he had in fact been busy in the workshop repairing Cumbria‘s regulator valve. We trust that this full and frank apology will spare the Trust any litigation.

Ade attempting to ascend the ramp with the fork liftWednesday started early with members on site in good time to enable prompt loading of seven wheelsets when the low loader arrived. Just for the record there were three from Wootton Hall‘s tender, both Caliban‘s wheelsets and FR 20’s tender wheelsets. These are expected back sometime next month after attention to tyres and/or journals. Adrian is seen here with the fork lift.

Martyn Soames straps down the wheelsMartyn Soames straps the wheelsets to his rig.

Once the wheelsets had departed it was time to wash out FR 20’s boiler. This had been delayed by bad weather over the previous two Wednesdays. Tim looks at instructions for helpAlan and John watch on here as Tim takes the drastic step of inspecting the instructions for the water pump in the hope that it might be coaxed into life.

Fortunately, Mike appeared and twiddled the right knobs with the result that a throrough wash out was carried out. An inspection by the boiler surveyor is booked for tomorrow, Tuesday.

D1924 heads up the loading ramp at prestonThe rest of Wednesday was spent watching Crewe’s Class 47 D1924 being winched on to a massive trailer for trip back to its home depot. The loco had taken refuge at the RSR the previous Thursday after suffering a problem which prevented any longer distance movement by rail. We trust that D1924 will soon be back in good health.

John Dixon and Roger paint FR 20's drag boxOn Friday John Dixon and Roger continued their work on FR 20’s drag box, attending to the securing holes on the footplate and applying a coat of undercoat.

John Davis and Phil Bell working on FluffMatt Jervis made a start on removing Cumbria‘s regulator (borrowed from 3793) and ‘J’ pipe whilst Fred continued to clean Caliban‘s buffers. Paul Newton continued his work on the former L&NWR platform seat and John Davis and new volunteer Phil Bell attended to the removal of Fluff‘s rear cab sheet.

Materials for the reverserThere has been more progress on Wootton Hall with the arrival of new steel for the construction of the reverser – no, that round thing isn’t a log!

Keith with a newly cut corner stay for Wootton Hall's tender tankKeith has started the job of making up pipework for the injectors and is seen here with a newly cut corner stay for the recently purchased tender tank.

Stuart Bennett RIPWe conclude with the sad task of recording the death last Thursday evening of former Live Steam band member Stuart Bennett. Stuart had, in the 1970s, been a member of popular South Lakeland folk group Bag ‘O Rags, which had entertained members on many occasions during those folk revival days. They were legendary occasions which brought many of our members together and the tales are still retold of merry nights out at such hostelries as the White Hart at Bouth and the Swan at Urswick. In 1999, after a period of time away from the folk music scene, Stuart accepted an invitation to join Live Steam and brought a new dimension to the band with his vocals, harmonies, guitar instrumentation and contributions to musical arrangements. Stuart clocked up over 140 gigs with the group, including the recording in 2001 of the CD Silver Jubilee, before reluctantly having to retire through ill health in 2008. We had many, many good times together and we send our sincere condolences to Stuart’s wife, Carol, and his family.

Monday 4th February 2019

A wintery scene at PrestsonIt was a very snowy Preston last Wednesday which probably explains why there was a delay to some of our members arriving. It was soon concluded that it was again too cold to undertake a washout on FR 20’s boiler.

However, the weather had not deterred Martin Clark who had driven down from Richmond, via a very bleak Stainmore summit, to see us and deliver some books for the sales stand. Martin Clark working on FR 20There were still plenty of other jobs to undertake in the comparative warmth of the shed so Martin was put to good use after making that effort to come, and is seen here cleaning the accumulated dirt and oil from around the front of FR 20’s cylinders and valve chest.John Dixon with a former for FR 20's brick arch John Dixon test fitted a former for the future construction of a brick arch in FR 20’s firebox and Tim continued the task of cleaning and painting FR 20’s wheels.

Continuing the theme of cleaning and preparing were John Dixon and Roger who blitzed FR 20’s drag box. It is strange to recall that for some months the engine’s drag box acted as a store for the vast array of nuts and bolts that was used during the loco’s restoration in the Engine Shop at the Barrow Shipyard more than 20 years ago!

Ade filling and sanding Caliban's framesAde continued his laudable work on Caliban‘s frames by filling and sanding various indentations.

Fred took on the task of cleaning rust from Caliban‘s buffers whilst Keith prepared brackets to hold the injectors on Wootton Hall and Bob continued his task of poring over drawings for the Hall, sensibly in close proximity to the kettle in the warmth of the mess room. Derek paid a visit to do some more filming of the work being undertaken and Mike Rigg appeared with a prospective new member who was being shown around the site.

John Davis was also busy on both Wednesday and Friday working on Fluff‘s frames.

And finally, a recent visit to Embsay by experienced boilersmith Graham Beddows had confirmed that it would be sensible at this stage to replace three stays in 5643’s firebox above the firehole door. With this in mind, Keith and George were planning to meet at Embsay on Saturday to remove pipework and cladding so that access can be gained to undertake the task.

Monday 28th January 2019

The Trustees met last Tuesday evening at Over Kellett to sign the shed lease and consider David’s cash flow statement – as many of you will be aware, there has been a significant outflow of money in recent weeks in order to progress the Trust’s projects! Attendance at the meeting was reduced due to the poor weather forecast but was just sufficient to be quorate and to transact the business. With the weather in mind, Alison’s sandwiches were duly eaten during the meeting to save time and all was done and dusted before 9.30 -this must be some sort of record! Opening the front door revealed an unwelcome layer of snow that had arrived while the meeting was underway, and those heading back towards Furness had to endure a blizzard.

Caliban after losing its front buffersThe cold weather put paid to any thoughts of undertaking a washout on FR 20’s boiler on Wednesday and so efforts were turned to removing Caliban‘s front buffers in readiness for the cylinders to be re-bored.

FR 20's new tubes arriveThe new tubes for FR 20’s boiler arrived late in the day and can be seen in this artistic photo taken by Ade of Alan inspecting the tubes viewed through the fork lift’s mechanism. (Suspect he just couldn’t be bothered to get off the fork lift! Ed.)

John Dixon replace a loose stud on Cumbria's domeCumbria‘s dome cover and dome lid were removed on Friday morning in readiness for the regulator and ‘J’ pipe to be removed for machining. John Dixon is seen here replacing one of the studs.

Fred cleans up one of FR 20's tender wheelsetsFred spent much of the day finishing the cleaning up of FR 20’s tender wheels…Happy in his work. John Dixon paints one of Fr 20's tender wheelsets … then John Dixon applied a coat of red oxide paint.

Roger cleans up some of FR 20's brass workRoger continued Phil’s efforts at cleaning FR 20’s brasswork and can be seen here busy at his work.

Keith fits one of Wootton Hall's new tender axle box keeps to an axle boxKeith has been working on the new keeps for Wootton Hall’s tender, and is seen here fitting one to one of the axleboxes.

And there was yet more work carried out by John Davis and Howard on Fluff.

Monday 21st January 2019

After the mass of news and photos contained in the first two blogs of the year, we have a petite version this week. This is partly due to some seasonal ‘man flu’ affecting part of the blog team!

Cumbria arrives back at PrestonFirstly, as predicted, Cumbria arrived back at Preston last Monday and was tucked into the top of road three in the FRT shed ready for attention.

Fresh Indian Red on FR 20's wheelsWork has continued on FR 20 with the first of the Indian Red gloss paint being applied to the engine’s wheelsets. This is literally a rolling programme as the engine will need to be rolled forwards or backwards for all areas of the wheels to be so decorated! All the copper pipework has been cleaned up ready for annealing to take place and further cleaning and polishing work has been carried out on the brass that fits to the front and back of the firebox. The steam cleaning of the tender wheelsets has been completed and they have been given a further hand clean in readiness for paint to be applied.  Finally, new tubes have been ordered and a cheque despatched; the tubes should appear in the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, with the all the old tubes now removed, a washout is planned for Wednesday, subject to a shunt being arranged and the pressure washer playing ball. With the formal NDT report now received, it should then be time to call in the boiler surveyor.

Brass on the Hall's cabsideProgress has also been made on Wootton Hall where brass edging to the cab side can now be seen in place. A start has also been made on bringing together the components for the brake gear so that it can be assembled on the tender.

John Marrow called in last Friday to examine Caliban with a view to re-boring the cylinders. This will require the removal of the front buffers and small holes cutting in the front buffer beam to allow access for the borer.

Finally, a Meeting of the Trustees has been convened for tomorrow evening (Tuesday), so don’t be surprised if one or two members are looking a little bleary eyed on Wednesday morning after scrutinising David’s cash flow analysis.

 

Monday 14th January 2019

The newly riveted front left tender stepsWe start with the news that a milestone in the restoration of the FRT’s ‘Hall’ class 4-6-0 locomotive No. 4979 Wootton Hall was reached on Thursday when the riveting gang fitted the last rivet to the re-built tender frames. The front of the tender frames had been severely wasted by years of water and coal dust which had cascaded down from the cab floor. As followers of this blog will know, the riveting team of Matt Jervis, Keith Brewer, John Dixon and Chris Rycroft have been meeting regularly on Thursdays over the last few months and have been responsible for completing the fitting of several hundred rivets which have locked together the new steelwork with the old. The final day saw 30 rivets fitted, which is quite an effort! Well done to all!

John Dixon with the gas torch heats up another rivetJohn is seen preparing the gas torch to heat up the rivets.

Keith holds the last hot rivet in placeKeith is pictured holding the final hot rivet in place.

Matt Jervis applies the riveting gun to the last rivetAnd Matt Jervis applies the force to finish the job.

Newly arrived tender tank for Wootton HallStaying with the Hall’s tender, and Alan Middleton is seen on Wednesday with the newly arrived second hand 4,000 gallon Collett tender tank recently arrived from Tyseley.

Keith Brewer stands in the new tankAs you will see here, it didn’t take long for Keith to set to with a cutting disc to remove the corroded shoveling plate. This will also enable scale to be removed from the tender tank.

Matt Bedford steam cleans a wheelset from FR 20's tenderOnto other projects, and the axleboxes have been removed from FR 20’s tender wheelsets and cleaned. The wheelsets have received some attention from scrapers to remove twenty years of grime and the first set is seen here being steam cleaned by Matt Bedford.

John Davis cuts one of FR 20's tubes in halfAndy Booth has completed the removal of the tubes from FR 20’s boiler and they were cut in half by John Davis before being placed in the scrap metal skip.

Fred and Keith with 5643 and Cumbria at EmbsayThere was a visit to Embsay on Saturday by Keith, Fred and Mike. Fred and Mike cleaned below the running plate on 5643 whilst Keith attacked the inside motion. Both 5643 and Cumbria were drawn outside the shed to allow the water to be drained from the boilers and for Cumbria’s spare springs to be loaded. Fred polishes 5643 at EmbsayThere was then time to polish up the bright work.

Cumbria is due to arrive back at Preston today (Monday) to enable repairs and servicing to take place before it goes back out on hire.

Finally, the trials and tribulations of the veteran Class 37 hauled services on the Furness and Cumbrian Coast Lines have been recorded here in past blogs. It is only fitting therefore that we leave you with a photo of the Class 37 Farewell Tour about to leave Carnforth on Friday on its return leg to Carlisle. 'Concrete Bob' at the head of the return leg of the Class 37 Farewell Tour This marked the end of regular loco-hauled  services along the Cumbrian Coast. The Class 37 diagrams are now covered by Class 156 diesel multiple units, themselves now around thirty years old.

Tuesday 8th January 2019

A belated Happy New Year to all our readers!

Yes, the blog has taken quite a long break since its last publication on the 17th December. But that does not mean that the Trust’s volunteers have been idle over the Festive period – in fact nothing could be further from the truth as you will see…

Alan prising off the right hand cylinder cover on FR 20Work has continued apace on the overhaul of FR 20, with Alan seen here prising off the front right hand cylinder cover. Both covers were removed with assistance from Ade and, at first sight, it looks as if new pistons rings will be required. Tim has since located the spare set that was ordered over twenty years ago.

FR 20's wheels in primerCleaning and painting of the engine’s wheels has also continued with a primer/undercoat of red oxide being visible here.

John Dixon cleans oil and grease from FR 20's toolboxJohn Dixon has been cleaning up the toolbox that is usually located on the running board to the right of the smoke box.

Adrian tows FR 20's tender to the loading road with StanlowThe decision was taken to lift the tender to get the axle journals skimmed and polished as these had given some problems in times past. Ade is seen here moving the tender to the unloading road after a massive shunt on the 2nd January. Well done Ade!

John Davis and Mike Rigg working on FluffWork has also continued on cleaning up Fluff‘s frames and bodywork over the Christmas period and John Davis is seen here at work with Mike Rigg.

Collett style cab styleKeith has, as ever, been working on Wootton Hall and the left hand ‘Collett style’ cab side is seen here mounted temporarily.

New Year's Eve and Live SteamAfter eight days of playing Christmas songs on the RSR’s Santa Specials before Christmas you would have thought that Alan and Tim would have wanted a rest, but they are seen here with George and Pete performing a successful Live Steam gig at the Engine Inn at Cark-in-Cartmel on New Year’s Eve.

Jim Kennedy undertakes the NDT examination of FR 20's boilerFriday, 4th January brought the good news that FR 20’s boiler and the three Hall tender wheelsets had passed Jim Kennedy’s NDT examination. Jim is seen here at work on the boiler.

And so to yesterday, Monday, 7th January. A crane was at the gate at 09.00 signalling a long day of work at Preston for the team. The first job was to lift FR 20’s tender to release the wheelsets for machining in February. The tender body has, in the meantime, been situated on blocks in the RSR’s car park.

Keith looks on as John Dixon cleans FR 20's tender axlebox lids in the new cleaning tankheThe axleboxes were transferred over to the FRT shed so that the components can be cleaned up. This was an opportunity to use the previously untested parts washer that had been generously donated to the FRT some while ago. After studious reading of the instructions (that’s unusual!) Keith Brewer watches on as John Dixon cleans the axlebox covers.

Wotton Hall's replacement tender tank arrives at PrestonLate afternoon the newly purchased Collett tender tank arrived from Tyseley.

Preparations are made to lift the tank at PrestonAfter some time manoeuvring of the low loader and crane into position, the tank was successfully lifted on to pallets alongside the FRT shed. The photo below shows a winter’s evening scene at Preston as preparations are made for the lift.

Looking forward, there will be another riveting session on Wootton Hall‘s tender frames in the FRT shed on Thursday. Keith and Fred will be travelling over to Embsay on Saturday to undertake some cleaning of 5643 and would welcome offers of assistance.