Monday 10th June 2024

We start this week’s blog with the breaking news that Furness Railway locomotive No 20 will be visiting the West Somerset Railway from 16th to 21st July to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the opening of the line between Watchet and Minehead. Full details of the event can be found here. There will also be other visiting locomotives including the very recently outshopped Great Western Railway ‘Grange’ 4-6-0 locomotive No. 6880 Betton Grange. A press release is also available here. Let’s hope that we have some decent weather that week!

The mess room roof looking tidierSome of you who have visited Preston in recent times will have noticed that the paintwork on ‘FRT Towers’ (our portacabin mess room) has started to look jaded – probably because we have been giving priority to painting our rolling stock. However, with the odd gap in the rain appearing during our very British summer, Sim has made a start on cleaning the roof of muck and rust and has been giving it a coat of red oxide. Hopefully the weather will allow the job to be completed before winter!

5643's inner smokebox ring looking in better health after weldingBack inside the FRT shed, there has been more work on Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643. Ian Massey spent some time welding up the inner smokebox ring last Wednesday.

5643's firebox cladding plates in undercoat greyTim has been rubbing down the firebox cladding sheets which have now received grey undercoat on the inner faces.

John Dixon removes the vacuum pipe from 5643The next task will be to rub down and paint the outer sides of the frames. John Dixon is seen here removing the vacuum pipe to enable full access to the frames. The steam heat pipe on the other side has also been removed for that same purpose.

This next weekend will see Furness Railway No. 20 in service on the Ribble Steam Railway with Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5 joining in on Sunday, Father’s Day.

Monday 3rd June 2024

With the May Bank Holiday holibobs now over, we suddenly seem to have found ourselves in June. Just a short update this week as several of our volunteers have been away seeking warm weather.

Counterweight rivets now obscured by a fresh coat of red oxideWork has again been concentrated on the overhaul of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643. The driving wheelset that had its balanceweight rivets secured is receiving a coat of paint.

Simeon Dixon cleans 5643's radial wheelset in readiness for paintingSimeon Dixon is seen cleaning the radial wheelset, which has recently returned from tyre turning at Bury, in readiness for a fresh coat of paint.

John Dixon enjoying cleaning 5643's oil bottle lockerJohn Dixon has continued his work outside the shed cleaning the bunker ready for painting, and has also been preparing the internal cab lockers for painting when external weather conditions have put a stop to the bunker work.

Keith has been preparing a new piece of angled steel to fit across the frames to replace some corroded steelwork that was formerly under the bunker.

We have also received the good news from Embsay that Hunslet ‘Austerity’ saddletank Cumbria has passed its fourteen months boiler examination and steam test. This should see it steaming well into 2025.

Monday 20th May 2024

5643's radial wheelset ready to go back under the frames.GWR 0-6-2T 5643’s radial wheelset, which returned from the East Lancashire Railway last Monday after its tyres had been re-profiled on the wheel lathe, was duly positioned behind 5643’s frames last Wednesday, ready for it to be returned to its rightful position.

John Davis grinding off more stay heads on 5643's fireboxJohn Davis has been busy grinding off more stay heads on 5643’s firebox, this time on the backhead.

Keith services 5643's manifoldKeith has been fettling up 5643’s manifold ready for re-fitting when required.

John Dixon cleaning 5643's bunker of rust and old paintMeanwhile, John Dixon has started work on cleaning up 5643’s bunker. We hope that the recent warm dry weather will continue to enable him to complete the work without too much down time.

The west end of RSR's BSK 35128 after repairOver in the Ribble Steam Railway running shed, several FRT members have been assisting the FRT’s Mike Rigg, who has for some time been in charge of the Mark 1 coach fleet. BSK 35128 has been undergoing intrusive investigation to its end crash pillars, which has meant removing corridor end platework. As can be seen, Tim has been using his creative skills with body filler to hide the joins in the new platework.

No blog next week, so we will see you again after the holidays.

Monday 13th May 2024

There was good representation from the Furness Railway Trust at former Treasurer David Rimmer’s funeral at Allerton a week last Wednesday. The family was very grateful for the opportunity to meet Davd’s friends afterwards at a local inn and to learn a little more of David’s many activities with the FRT.

Ed chips away at old rust and paint on one of one of 5643's tank filler apperturesThere has been more progress at Preston with the overhaul of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643, with a variety of jobs being tackled. Painting and cleaning of the inside motion is just about complete and Ed can be seen here cleaning rust and paint from one of the water tank filler apertures.

5643's radial wheelset finished and ready to go back to PrestonRe-profiling of 5643’s radial wheelset on the East Lancashire Railway wheel lathe at Bury has been completed with the wheelset arriving back at Preston today.

The ELR poster for FR 20's visit in OctoberTalking of the ELR, the railway has just announced that Furness Railway No. 20 will be visiting for their Autumn Steam Gala on the 11th to 13th October. FR 20 is also scheduled to be travelling elsewhere this summer, but details are still to be announced by the host railway. Last Wednesday saw FR 20 out of the running shed at Preston for its ashpan to be re-installed and a warming fire to be lit after its cold examination by the boiler surveyor. It was then successfully steamed for the boiler surveyor on Friday so is now back in ticket.

On a totally unrelated subject, last Saturday saw the launch of Live Steam guitarist Pete Skellon’s book “Bahamas” at the Kents Bank Station Library. This is Pete’s fourth book (the others all having sold out) and has taken him nine years to write, telling the tale of how Jubilee class 4-6-0 No. 45596 Bahamas was saved from the scrapyard, as well as describing its working life with the  LMS/BR and then its time in preservation, including its stints on the main line. Our folk group, Live Steam, first met up with Pete when they were invited to play in a marquee at Dinting in 1988 on the occasion of the first steaming of Bahamas after overhaul and also marking the 21st Anniversary of the Bahamas Locomotive Society. It was a memorable evening and we have been glad to be able to re-acquaint ourselves with the BLS volunteers on a number of occasions since then, including at Blaenavon last year. Back to the book, it is, as you would expect from Pete (he was a technical writer at the Barrow Shipyard), a high quality product which not only relates the history of the locomotive, but tells the story of the people who have preserved and looked after this splendid machine. Priced at £35, it can be obtained through the BLS web site for £39 including postage. However, Tim will be able to obtain copies direct from Pete (saving the postage) for delivery to Preston and, if there is enough interest, a batch will be purchased on trade terms. Please contact Tim in the first instance.

Monday 29th April 2024

Ade with 5643's radial wheelsetThe radial wheelset of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643 was
despatched to the East Lancashire Railway last Wednesday where the tyres
will be reprofiled on their lathe. Ade retrieved the wheels out of the Furness
Railway Trust’s shed at Preston through some neat manoeuvring with the fork
lift truck.

Neatly loaded on to the wagon next to Stewart Waugh's wheelsetsThe wheelset was then hoisted aboard the lorry which was handily equipped
with a hi-ab lift. The lorry also returned two springs to the ELR and picked up
two wheelsets belonging to FRT member Stewart Waugh which were also
going for re-profiling of the tyres.

Sam fits the new battery to GER No. 5Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5 is due back in service on the RSR
this next Sunday for the serving of cream teas. It has previously been using a
battery borrowed from one of the Ribble Steam Railway’s carriage fleet but a
brand new battery has now been purchased for the vehicle which Sam fitted
last Wednesday.

Keith drilling holes in the new plate for Wootton Hall's tender tankSome further progress has been made by welding contractor Ian Massey on
replacing steelwork in the tender tank of Great Western Railway 4-6-0 No.
4979 Wootton Hall. Keith is seen here drilling a new piece of steel to be
welded in the floor of the coal space.

The coal space in Wootton Hall's tender tank with new steelwork ready to be welded inThe above photo illustrates that there are still some more areas to be tackled
on each side of the coal space.

Monday 22nd April 2024

Dave in action at Appleby on the 23rd March 2010We start this week’s blog with the very sad news that David Rimmer, former Membership Secretary and then (extremely) long time Treasurer of both the Lakeside Railway Society and the Furness Railway Trust, passed away at the age of 80 last Thursday, 18th April, after being diagnosed with cancer. David was a guard, booking office clerk and locomotive cleaner at Haverthwaite during the earlier days and became a stalwart of the Carriage and Wagon gang. He was also involved in the restorations of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643 and Furness Railway No. 20 as well as being a keen supporter of the Wootton Hall project. David’s presence at Preston was reduced in more recent times as he took on caring for his brother John who had suffered a stroke. However, although retiring from being Treasurer and a Trustee at the end of March 2022, he continued to look after the Gift Aid claims for the Trust. His loss will, we are sure, be keenly felt by all those who have worked with David over the best part of 50 years.

David’s funeral will be held at 2. 45 pm on Wednesday, 1st May at Springwood Crematorium, Springwood Avenue, Allerton L25 7UN. His family hopes that as many as possible of David’s friends will be able to attend. Our sincere condolences go to brother John, sister Judith, brother in law Mike and the rest of David’s family.

Sam in charge of the hose during FR 20's boiler washoutLast Wednesday saw FR 20 being given a boiler washout in preparation for its forthcoming cold inspection by the boiler surveyor on the 3rd May. Sam was in charge with the hose.

John and Jon in action with the hose and water pumpJohn Dixon fed the hose to Sam whilst Jon Dixon operated the fire pump which he had coaxed into action after giving it a full service.

Keith clearing stay debris from 5643's fireboxRon Crowe has been drilling out more studs on the firebox backhead of 5643 whilst Keith has been removing more stays, seen here clearing stay debris from the foundation ring of the firebox.

Jon Dixon painting 5643's buffer beam u/c redOnce he had finished his work with the fire pump, Jon Dixon took on painting 5643’s buffer beam with undercoat red.

Monday 15th April 2024

John Dixon fixes lifting chains below 5643's chimneyLast Wednesday saw Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643’s boiler being dragged out of the FRT shed during a gap in the rain showers in order to remove the chimney, manifold and safety valves. John Dixon went inside the smokebox to fix the chains below the chimney.

The chimney comes offKeith went on top to guide Paul Wood, Ribble’s RRV operator, using the microphone and earphones clamped to his head to communicate.

The manifold and safety valves followed without problems, but an attempt to remove the smokebox door failed when the locating pin in the hinges refused to move despite strenuous efforts by John with the lump hammer and a degree of nervousness from Tim who was holding the drift in place with his fingers! Another attempt will be made at a later date using a fork lift truck.

The new cylinder liners for 5643The two new cylinder liners for 5643 arrived at Preston on Wednesday and now await fitting.

Alan Middleton inspects Caliban's valve events on Wednesday, 10th April 2024Peckett 0-4-0ST Caliban was also moved a small distance last Wednesday in order for Alan to check its valve moments before the cylinder covers are re-fitted.

Finally, Sam and John have been working to prepare Furness Railway locomotive No. 20 for its annual boiler examination whilst Jon Dixon has been servicing the fire pump in anticipation of washing out the boiler.

Monday 8th April 2024

We start this week’s blog with the sad news that long time member and former Press and Publicity Officer of the Lakeside Railway Society (forerunner of the FRT) Michael Cooke has passed away recently at the age of 85. Despite suffering from ill health, Michael had kept in touch in recent years, sponsoring the purchase of some storage shelves and supplying the mess room with tea bags for the benefit of volunteers. The funeral will be private and we send our condolences to Michael’s family.

Sim Dixon cleans 5643's eccentrics in preparation for re-paintingThe overhaul of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643 is making steady progress with Sim Dixon alongside brother Jon (out of picture) cleaning the eccentrics prior to re-painting them.

Keith using gas to cut out old stays from 5643's fireboxKeith has been in the firebox using gas to cut out old stays.

Tim has applied yet another layer of undercoat green paint to the left hand tender tank side of GWR No. 4979 Wootton Hall whilst Sam Middleton and John Dixon dropped the water from Furness Railway No. 20’s boiler and cleaned the firebox, smokebox and ashpan in preparation for the boiler’s forthcoming 14 month examination by the boiler surveyor.

Monday 1st April 2024

It’s no joke! It’s the 1st April and we are already a quarter of the way through 2024!

Fred's collection of booksFirst of all, we would like to thank the family of the late Fred Jones who have generously donated Fred’s considerable collection of books to the FRT. The books have now been sorted into size and stored on the recently acquired shelves in the mess room whilst we take stock of what we have. A wonderful gift.

Ed working on 5643's cab roofThe overhaul of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643 continues with Ed taking the opportunity of some fine weather (is that really blue sky?) to work on 5643’s cab which is outside the workshop.

John Dixon busy with 5643's motionJohn Dixon unexpectedly finds himself the subject of yet another photo whilst attending to 5643’s motion.

Keith removes another stayMeanwhile Keith has been applying some heat to remove one of the firebox stays.

Sam preparing joints for Caliban's valve covers. That is quite some protrusion from his neck!Sam has been preparing new joints for Peckett 0-4-0ST Caliban’s valve covers.

Tim applying a second coat of undercoat to the left hand of Wootton Hall's tender tank.Tim has been applying a second coat of green undercoat to the left-hand side of Great Western Railway 4-6-0 No. 4979 Wootton Hall’s tender tank having, after the first coat, decided that the tank side needed considerably more work to repair indentations.

Second coat of undercoat green drying in the shedThe result looks far more acceptable.

Monday 25th March 2024

A short catch up this week. That is not to say that work is not continuing apace as usual.

Keith has been drilling out more stays in the firebox of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643 whilst John, Jon and Simeon Dixon have been working on cleaning and painting 5643’s frames.

The Ribble Steam Railway’s Spring Steam Gala took place on Saturday and Sunday which meant that some resources were deployed to clean Furness Railway No. 20 and prepare it for action. Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5 was also in traffic over the weekend so it was given a good vacuuming, a polish of the internal woodwork and the battery charged up.

FR 20 and the cab and frames of FR 25 in the background during the RSR's Spring Steam GalaSaturday turned out to be a very cold and windy day that reminded Tim and his crew on FR 20 why locomotive cabs were invented! The weather took a turn for the better on Sunday, and all went to plan. FR 20 is pictured here during a lunch break with the cab and frames of the former FR 25 in the background.

Anne Burton with the FRT's sales stand on Saturday during the RSR's spring Steam Gala.Anne and Phil Burton staffed a FRT sales stand over the week and took some useful money for the Trust.