Monday 20th September 2021

A sparkling repainted works plateThe final jobs on Furness Railway No. 20 are gradually being knocked off the ‘to do’ list. The black paintwork on the works plates has been renewed by Neil and the plates were re-fitted on Wednesday.

Ron Crowe and Paul Balshaw at work on FR 20Ron Crowe refitted the sand pipes while Paul Balshaw gave the loco another clean in readiness for the forthcoming ‘volunteer open day’.

Alan and Sam at work on the main steam pipe in FR20's smokeboxAlan and Sam spent quite some time modifying and then fitting the main steam pipe in the smokebox.

John Dixon fits retaining clamps for the water gauge drain pipesJohn Dixon has made some clamps to retain the boiler water gauge drain pipes in place – another of those jobs that has taken over twenty years to achieve!

The boiler surveyor is due to give FR 20 what we hope will be a final cold boiler inspection on Tuesday before we light a fire in the firebox. Fingers crossed!

Phil Bell and John Davis at work on FluffAde caught Phil Bell and John Davis working on the right hand side of Fluff’s bonnet on Wednesday.

Alan and Keith putting together new steelwork for the new water take off box for Wootton Hall's tenderWe had a delivery of newly shaped steel plate on Friday from which Keith is going to construct a new water take off box which will sit below Wootton Hall’s tender tank when completed.

The aforementioned ‘volunteer open day’ attracted a number of prospective volunteers on Saturday. Tim and Ade were on hand to show them around plus quite a few other passengers who took the opportunity to visit the FRT shed and purchase some souvenirs. Both Tim and Alison had contributed to a two hour long BBC Radio Lancashire programme on Thursday evening, along with RSR’s Dave Watkins, Gary Severn and Steve Cain, which highlighted the work of volunteers at the RSR and FRT.

A reminder that the Annual General Meeting will take place next Tuesday evening, 28th September, at 7.30 pm in the FRT shed at Preston. We are informed that there will be cake on hand to tempt members to attend!


Monday 13th September 2021

As we head into the more comfortable autumn weather, work in the FRT has been progressing well.

New and old blower rings for FR 20FR 20’s new blower ring has been fabricated by John Dixon and is seen alongside the old ring which had certainly had its day.

John Dixon drills new holes in the upper side of the new blower ring for FR 20John then set about drilling the new holes which, at 1/8th”, are slightly smaller than the previous holes which had opened out naturally beyond their original size.

Sam opening out holes in one part of FR 20's steam pipeAlan and Sam have been working on modifying the main steam pipe. Sam is seen opening out the holes in one end of the pipe to accommodate the new studs on the steam chest.

Underneath FR 20's tenderTim has been putting the finishing touches to the paintwork underneath the tender which, along with some new pipework, looks very smart.

Up and away!Ade spent Wednesday raising Caliban‘s frames so that the wheels could be rolled underneath (hope the wheels are the right way round, Ade!), and then lowering the frames back down again.

Caliban's frames after loweringAfter some adjustment with the help of a traversing jack, the frames finally came down in the right place, between the wheels.

Fluff with left hand side assembledThe left hand side of Fluff‘s engine compartment bonnet is now visibly complete.

John Davis painting an angle for FluffJohn Davis has set about priming an angle to support the right hand side panels.

Lowering Wootton Hall's tender vacuum cylinder into the tender framesWootton Hall’s tender vacuum cylinder has been lowered into position.

Keith Brewer and tender brake shaftFinally, Keith has now manoeuvred the brake shaft adjacent to the cylinder into position ready for fitting.

Monday 6th September 2021

A short update this week.

John Dixon fabricating a new blower ring for FR 20The new water fittings and pipework underneath FR 20’s tender have now been fitted by John Dixon who has now been concentrating his attention on fabricating a new blower pipe for the engine.

The underside of the old blower ringThe corrosion on the underside of the old blower pipe can clearly be seen.

Phil Bell arranges more panels on Fluff's bonnetThe jigsaw that is Fluff‘s bonnet continues to come together with Phil Bell assembling some more panels.

There was a stamp licking session in the mess room last Friday so members should now be receiving their copy of The Iron Horse through the letterbox. The envelope will also contain the Trustees’ Annual Report and Accounts for 2020 plus an invitation to the Annual General Meeting on the evening of Tuesday, 28th September.

It has always been the intention to have a social gathering to celebrate the life of the late Derek Milby. This has now been arranged at the Ulverston Brewing Company’s premises in Derek’s home town of Ulverston on the evening of Saturday, 9th October. This event will coincide with the annual Barrow Model Railway Club exhibition when many of Derek’s friends will be in the area. The premises can only accommodate 50 people so it would be helpful if any readers who wish to attend can contact Tim Owen who will liaise with the Furness Model Railway Club regarding numbers. The event will close at 10.30 pm and Live Steam will be making their first scheduled post lock down appearance.

Monday 30th August 2021

Sam drills a new hole in FR 20's cab spectacle plateWork has progressed on fitting the controls to the new injector steam valves on FR 20. It has been possible to fit the right hand control through an existing hole in the cab spectacle plate but for some reason a new hole was required on the left hand side which was drilled by Sam.

Phil Bell trying to make the engine compartment sheets on Fluff fitPhil is still working his way towards fitting the panels on Fluff‘s engine compartment.

Ade fitting felt pads to Caliban's axleboxesAde has been fitting felt pads to Caliban‘s axlebox keeps. He managed to find some horse hair to provide extra cushioning under the pads, which saved the need for him to cut off his own locks!

Paul Newton with a shiny bench seatPaul Newton is now in the final stages of restoring the former L&NWR platform seat from Preston station.

Ron Crowe cutting more steel from Wootton Hall's tender tankRon has been cutting out more corroded steel from Wootton Hall‘s tender tank.

Wootton Hall's vacuum cylinder being set up for a testKeith has completed the assembly of Wootton Hall’s tender vacuum cylinder and it is being set up for a test.

Finally, the Annual General Meeting will be held this year at the FRT shed at Preston at 7.30 pm on Tuesday evening, 28th September; please put this in your diary. The formal invitations to members will go out with the latest edition of The Iron Horse magazine, which is now in production with the proofs being returned to the printer last week.

Monday 23rd August 2021

There are still some outstanding areas of work to complete before Furness Railway No. 20 can be steamed. Ron Crowe refitted the front guard irons, which had been removed for the engine’s recent trip to Barrow, and Tim has taken on board cleaning out the lockers in the tender – yes the clear-out was long overdue with a fair amount of rubbish found and disposed of! The lockers are receiving a fresh coat of paint before they are refilled with useful content! Alan and Sam have been concentrating on fitting the controls to the new injector steam valves, with the refitting of the main steam pipe also on their ‘to do’ list. John Dixon preparing the 2 pack paintJohn Dixon has been continuing his expeditions into the tender tank, seen here mixing the two pack paint…

John Dixon busy in the tender tank…and then applying it.

Paul Balshaw applying primer to Fluff's panelsThe Fluff gang has been busy test fitting side panels to the engine compartment. Paul Balshaw is seen here applying primer to one of the panels…

Phil Bell removing accumulated paint on one of the panels…whilst Phil Bell has been removing paint to make the panels fit correctly!

Ade has been test fitting Caliban‘s axleboxes.

G clamps galore!Keith has been renovating and assembling Wootton Hall‘s tender vacuum cylinder. First a new slipping band had to be fitted to the piston. This can be a frustrating exercise: the holes in the piston, the band and the steel band that keeps the slipping band in place have all to be lined up. ‘G’ clamps are the preferred method to achieve this and the FRT’s full complement of clamps were deployed to the task on Wednesday morning.

Keith tightening up the vacuum tender cylinder for Wootton HallBy Friday Keith had fitted the rubbing band, inserted the piston, fitted the sealing rings and was to be seen tightening up the top and bottom parts of the vacuum cylinder.

Keith reports that 5643 has again been busy at the East Lancs Railway, hauling ten coaches on Thursday. It is seen here leaving Bury on Friday with the dining train of six coaches.

Finally, when Tim was in an Ulverston bookshop this week he spotted a book entitled Ulverston, Festival town, with a very familiar face grinning at him from the front cover!Alan has become a front cover man at last!

Monday 16th August 2021

Give him a long enough lever and Ade will move the earth!Last Wednesday saw yet another working party convene at Embsay in an effort to improve the performance of Cumbria‘s left hand injector. New parts had been fitted during the previous visit but the bottom cone had proved to be a tight fit and it had been decided not to put too much weight on it whilst being screwed into position. This time, on examination, there was far less resistance and, with the assistance of a length of pipe, Adrian was able to screw it until it reached the end of its thread.

Well, that took all of ten minutes, so it was agreed to give Cumbria a steam test so that the effect of this tweak to the injector could be assessed. Needless to say, there was then a break of some hours whilst steam was raised which allowed time for cups of tea, lunch, more tea, cleaning of the engine and the taking of some photographs.Alan taking a carriage photo?Tim caught Alan apparently taking a photo of the lovely L&NWR saloon.

Ade's artistic effortMeanwhile Ade contented himself with one of his artistic cab spectacle photos of Welsh Guardsman departing Embsay with a train to Bolton Abbey.

The outcome of all this was that, when pressure reached 115 psi, Ade lost patience and put the injector on with no problem. This then led to Cumbria being put into service for a short stint before being withdrawn for a scheduled boiler washout.

Planning the day's activitiesBack at Preston, the Fluff gang has again been busy. We see here a planning meeting on Friday – is this a new concept?!

Test fitting more bits on FluffPhil and John Davis then set about test fitting the first side panel to the new angle support piece.

Fred in familiar poseFred then set about cleaning more of Fluff’s panels for painting.

Roger lying down on the jobMeanwhile Roger took advantage of some better weather by continuing the paint job on the former Foxfield water column.

John Dixon heading into self isolationWork also continued on FR 20 where Stewart Waugh had applied some anti-corrosion solution to the tender coal space after which Tim added some grey undercoat. Having finished (and won!) his long running battle with fitting the engine’s vacuum pipe, John Dixon was busy on the inside of the tender tank applying some two pack paint, again to prevent future corrosion.

Monday 9th August 2021

A short update this week.

John Dixon working under FR 20's R/H valance.Further work has taken place on FR 20 with Tim tidying up some of the corrosion and paintwork on top of the tender and John Dixon still finding work to do on the engine’s vacuum pipe which is located under the right hand valance.

John Dixon fabricating a new vacuum pipe support bracketJohn has been fabricating two brackets to retain the vacuum pipe in place and is seen here removing sharp edges that could potentially cause harm to those working underneath the loco.

John Davis drilling holes in the new angles above Fluff's engine compartmentWork has also continued on Fluff with Phil Bell making some adjustments to the cab spectacle plate and John Davis drilling holes in the new angles which support the engine compartment roof.

Keith reports that 5643’s valves have been refitted after some work on them at Bury and that the loco was then sent out on a test run on Friday. We see it here making a highly unusual combination double-heading on Friday with LNER ‘A4’ Union of South Africa!!

Finally for this week, news from Embsay is that the work to improve the performance of Cumbria‘s driver’s side injector has been successful but that there is still some way to go on the fireman’s side injector, which does not want to pick up at lower pressure. Another working party is being convened at Embsay on Wednesday.

Monday 2nd August 2021

It has been a full week. Wednesday saw a good gathering at St. Mary Magdalene’s Church in Ribbleton for a lovely service to remember the life of Jean Dixon, followed by the opportunity to have a more informal chat and  a chance to look at photos at the White Bull near Longridge.

Ade, Alan, Tim and Sam went to Embsay on Thursday to refit Cumbria’s right hand injector clack box, hand brake and new parts for the left hand injector. As ever, you always meet up with the unexpected! Ade tapped out the holes in the backhead of the firebox for the new studs.

Alan fitting new studs for the clack boxAlan then fitted the studs and until then, all was going well…..

Tim came to lift the clack box on to the studs and found that the holes in the clack box weren’t aligned with the studs! There was a pause whilst the old studs were examined and some of them were found to be bent. The only solution to obtaining a good fit was then to open out the holes in the clack box after which Ade is seen here tightening the retaining nuts.Ade tightening the nuts

Fitting the new parts to the left hand injector wasn’t all plan sailing either but was finally accomplished with a bit of oooomph!

That left the re-fitting of the hand brake shaft. Sam watching Ade fit the handbrake linksSam is seen watching Ade under the engine during the process of fitting the links to the shaft.

A steam test for Cumbria is now scheduled for tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Keith headed over to Bury on Thursday to look at 5643’s valves which had been removed for examination following reports of excessive water consumption by the engine. Fortunately the ELR has Dave Reynolds, formerly of the Severn Valley Railway and somewhat of an expert on GWR locos, to render advice and a plan of action has been agreed to complete a repair.

Wootton Hall's sand boxes repaired and paintedBack at Preston we have a photo of two repaired and painted sand boxes for Wootton Hall.

John doing some filingWe were very pleased to welcome back John on Saturday who is seen here filing a new bracket to carry FR 20’s engine vacuum pipe.

FR 20 sports the new headboardThose of you who read the blog a fortnight ago might have spotted a new locomotive headboard with the words “The Furness Railway Trust”. Sponsored by one of our members, this is now at Preston with a view to promoting the FRT and is seen on the front of FR 20.

Finally, we leave you with news that a CGI version of Furness Railway No. 20 has been produced for Train Simulator. The product looks pretty convincing to us, and all credit to them.

Monday 26th

So, it’s only five months to Boxing Day – no we haven’t actually mentioned the ‘C’ word yet, but it’s a sobering thought that time is marching on!

It has been a quieter time for us this week as the hot weather has either dissuaded people from coming to Preston this last week or slowed down those who did turn up. Or they were away on holiday (and see below..).

Tim spent his time cleaning off the muck deposited by the seagulls of Barrow on FR 20 when it was on display. He then turned to removing loose scale from the tender coal space in readiness for a coat of paint.

Neil working on the first works plateNeil appeared on Saturday to paint the inlaid sections of the works plates. These have been taken home so that a full two coats of paint can be applied.

Fred painting the water column in the heat of the sunFred manfully braved the heat on Friday and is seen here adding further paint to the water column.

Keith and the new section of ashpan for Wootton HallKeith has been busy manufacturing a new back lower section for Wootton Hall‘s ashpan.

Following on from last week’s sad news, John Dixon informs us that Jean’s funeral will be held at 2.30 pm on this Wednesday, 28th July, at St. Mary Magdalene Church at Ribbleton, Preston. The committal will take place afterwards at Preston crematorium.

Finally,  back to the promised mention of holidays. Alan has been away in the far South West, and found a giant deck chair to his liking at the Bodmin and Wenford Railway….

Stuck.... not that he knows it yet...

Now, it would be cruel to suggest that “pride comes before a fall”, because actually “falling” was that last thing that poor Alan could do.  When he tried to stand up he quite simply could not.  He was stuck and couldn’t get out of the darned thing….
There is video evidence, and if there is sufficient demand, money may be changing hands and we may post it on here….

Monday 19th July 2021

It is with great sadness that we start this week’s blog with the news that Jean Dixon, wife of John, passed away on Friday afternoon after losing her fight with cancer. Jean was Membership Secretary of the Lakeside Railway Society in the early days and has always since been part of our wider family. We offer our sincere condolences to John, Andrew, Linda and Sam. Funeral arrangements will be published when available.

Last week was the run up to the Festival of Transport at Barrow, which this year was celebrating the 175th anniversary of the Furness Railway and at which at which Furness Railway No. 20 was due to make its first public appearance for three years.

FR 20 departs from Preston on Friday afternoonSimon Reid of Reid Freight was keen that this should be one of his more leisurely moves, as he had arranged for his family to be with him at Barrow over the weekend – rather a busman’s holiday! Simon appeared at Preston after lunch by which time Adrian had shunted FR 20 on to the loading road, which had been helpfully cleared by the Ribble Rail staff. The loco departed at 16.10 for its journey to Barrow and an overnight stopover at a secure location there – thanks to David Stubbins of the FR 175 committee, Wicks Waste Management and the Barrow Transport Group for their help.

Neil, Jim and Andrew, with Tom Jones and Peter van Zeller in the backgroundFR 20 was skilfully reversed to its allotted position behind the Dock Museum at 08.45 on Saturday morning with the sales team of Jim Kay, Andrew Furness and part time assistant Neil Smith turning up to set up the stall nearby the loco and with Peter van Zeller also making the trip down from Ravenglass to join in the fun.

FR 20 in position at the Dock Museum on Saturday morningThere wasn’t a cloud in the sky and everyone agreed that FR20 looked splendid in this historic and picturesque setting nearby the old Barrow graving dock. Certainly sun tan lotion was the order of the day!

Simon Reid gives his lorry a polishWith such a sparkling loco on his rig, Simon was to be seen giving his lorry some TLC of its own!

One of the preserved buses operating the free bus serviceThere was a well organised free bus service operated by preserved vehicles which brought new visitors to the site every 20 minutes throughout the day so, without being overrun, there was a steady flow of people who came to take photographs, chatted to us and bought souvenirs from the stall.

Seeing double!Tom Jones brought his beautiful 5″ gauge working model of FR 20 for it to be displayed alongside the 12″ to the foot version and which received many accolades.

Tim reprises the Iron roadNearby there were also stalls operated by the FR 175 committee, Community Rail Cumbria and the Lakes Line Rail User Group amongst others. There were children’s entertainers and, in the afternoon, Tim took the opportunity to reprise some of the songs from the FR 150 road show The Iron Road.

One of the great things about the day was the opportunity to meet up again outside and also to catch up with the many friends who came to visit throughout the day, most of whom we hadn’t seen since before the first lock down. FR 20 departs with the backdrop of the DDHAll too soon though, 16.00 hrs arrived and it was time to pack up and then wave goodbye to FR 20 as, with a farewell toot on the Reid Freight horn, it left the site by the towering Devonshire Dock Hall of the shipyard, where FR 20’s restoration took place from 1996 to 1998. All in all, a very successful and memorable day at a very well organised event.

We are pleased to be able to report that Ade was once again on hand at Preston on Sunday to shunt FR 20 back into the FRT shed. It only remains to thank everyone who prepared the loco for exhibition, special thanks to Ade for undertaking the shunting, Simon Reid, and also the sales team for their efforts. We leave you with a topical photo taken by Ade last Wednesday which we hope you will like:Yes, it came home!