Monday 4th January 2021

Welcome to the first blog of 2021. We wish our readers a Happy New Year and hope that you all stay safe in these difficult times.

There was plenty of activity in the FRT shed at Preston over the Christmas period. The following photos show activity on Wednesday, 23rd December.

John Dixon completes the fitting of the boiler crinolines on FR 20John Dixon completed refitting the crinolines on FR 20’s boiler.

Ed Tatham sanding FR 20's boiler claddingTim Owen at work on FR 20's boiler claddingEd and Tim busied themselves sanding the boiler cladding sheets. Fred then  completed the firebox sheets the following Monday.

Ade working on Caliban's brake rodsAde was working on Caliban‘s brake rods.

Paul Newton and John Davis working on FluffPaul Newton and John Davis continued their work on Fluff.

Keith working on Wootton Hall's tender brake cylinderKeith was working on Wootton Hall‘s tender vacuum cylinder.

Finally, there is good news in that the latest edition of The Iron Horse has been proof read and is back with the printer to produce the magazines.

Monday 21st December 2020

FR 20 with engine and tender reunitedIt has been all change again in the FRT shed this week with a big shunt around the site on Thursday which has enabled FR20’s engine to be reunited with its tender over the pit and for Fluff (and its associated workforce) to be moved into the warmth of the main shed. They have also been joined again by Caliban‘s boiler.

Ed Tatham working to fasten crinolines in the confined space under FR 20's boilerMost of the crinolines were fitted to FR 20’s boiler on Wednesday and one of the front  cladding sheets also fitted to ensure that everything will align with number plate and hand rail fitments. Ed Tatham is seen here fastening one of the crinolines in the confined space under the boiler.

Fred sanding another cladding sheetWe also feature another photo of Fred sanding down a cladding sheet, just to confirm to daughter Helen (who reads our blog) that he hasn’t gone AWOL and that we are still keeping him busy!

Paul Newton working on a cab seat from FluffWork has continued on Fluff with Paul Newton attending to a cab seat.

John Davis carefully painting one of fluff's fittingsJohn Davis has been painting some of the fittings.

The last RSR lighting column about to be removedOutside the shed, the remaining tall lighting column was removed by the Ribble Steam Railway on Wednesday as it was no longer required.

We are pleased to be able to record that there is a welcome appetite by our volunteers to work over the Christmas period and so the following working party dates have been arranged:

Wednesday, 23rd December
Monday, 28th December
Wednesday, 30th December
Friday, 1st January

Finally, the Trustees wish to thank all members for their support during what has been a very difficult 2020 and to wish everyone an enjoyable festive period. We also remember those very frustrated members who, because of the pandemic, have been unable to participate in the Trust’s activities since March and look forward to seeing them again, hopefully in the not too distant future.

Monday 14th December 2020

John Davis and Neil Smith fit the insulation to FR 20's boilerA shorter blog this week but one which records some more visible progress on FR 20. Neil Smith was able to join us on Friday and was soon put to work fitting the fibreglass insulation to FR 20’s boiler. Neil (right) is seen here with John Davis.

Paul newton and John Davis fitting the insulation to FR 20's boilerPaul Newton (left) also gave a hand whilst Tim was kept busy with the sweeping brush down below collecting the bits of fibreglass that inevitably fell to the ground during the progress.

FR 20 with its boiler insulation fittedThe almost finished job is seen here – the former insulation for the top of the dome has gone awol so that needs making up this week with new.  We are hoping that Neil might get a few more days of annual leave to help us get on with the rest of the jobs! The next task will be to fit the crinolines.

Tim getting there with the smokebox preparationsWhen he wasn’t on sweeping up duties, Tim carried on sanding the filler on the smokebox, which still has a bit to do, but is getting there.

Meanwhile Keith was cutting and tapping more metal for Wootton Hall’s tender.

Gavin Renshaw working on the first of the RSR's timeline muralsOutside, local artist Gavin Renshaw, who was featured in the blog earlier this year when he recorded the work being undertaken on Caliban, has been commissioned to paint some timeline murals on the outside of the RSR’s museum. He is seen here at work on the first mural which features Stephenson’s Rocket. The end result should be impressive!

Monday 7th December 2020

John Dixon prepares FR 20's crinolines in readiness for fittingWork has continued to further the ten year overhaul of Furness Railway No. 20. With the boiler now back in the frames, John Dixon has been fettling up the crinolines and making one or two useful modifications to them. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we start putting on the boiler insulation.

Fred rubbing down the first of FR 20's cladding sheetslFred returned to the fray on Friday after the end of the lockdown. He is seen here rubbing down the first of the boiler cladding sheets.

Cladding sheet primed and ready for fittingThis was then primed to cover bare metal. Only another seven sheets to go!

FR 20 receiving attention to the paintwork at the front endTim has been sprucing up the smokebox ready for painting.

Alan Middleton removing blanks from the boilerMeanwhile Alan has been removing blanks from the boiler which were put in place for the hydraulic and out-of-frames steam tests.

Ade painting Caliban's axlesAde has spent some time painting Caliban‘s axles.

John Davis preparing more platework for FluffJohn Davis has been preparing more steelwork for Fluff.

Paul Newton with newly painted components for FluffPaul Newton has been painting some more components for Fluff.

Keith has been busy doing further work on Wootton Hall‘s tender frames in readiness for the time when it can be placed on its wheels.

Finally, there has been disappointing news from both the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway and the East Lancashire Railway which have Cumbria and 5643 on hire to them respectively to haul Santa Specials. Unfortunately, both railways have been asked to modify their methods of operations as a result of Tier 2 and Tier 3 restrictions so were unable to operate this last weekend.

Monday 30th November 2020

With the essential works required to despatch 5643 in one piece to the East Lancs Railway and also to conduct the outside-the-frames steam test on FR 20’s boiler both successfully completed, there has been a lull in FRT operations pending the ending of the current lockdown on the 2nd December. So apologies but this is therefore a very short blog!

The beforeThe cleaning of 5643 during its maintenance period had inevitably added to the oil and dirt that had accumulated in and around the pit area. Given the current downturn in activities it was an ideal time for Keith to clean and paint as much of the floor area as possible to ensure that we have a clean and safe environment in which to work when full activities resume in December. Well done Keith! This is the transformation after his work… The after


Monday 23rd November 2020

Following last week’s action packed blog, this week’s rendition is somewhat of a postscript.

As readers will recall, Furness Railway No. 20’s boiler passed its out of frames steam test last Monday. During the course of that day it was apparent that there would be a small window of opportunity to unite the boiler with the loco’s frames using the RSR’s overhead crane two days later on Wednesday. This would be a win-win deal as the lowmac on which FR 20’s boiler was resting could then be used straight away for Walkden‘s boiler. The following photos tell the tale:

FR 20's chassis is shunted around to the RSR workshopThe first job was to empty the RSR’s shed road and then for Sentinel Progress to bring FR 20’s frames around from the FRT shed.

The pit area being cleaned in the FRT shedThis, incidentally, left the FRT’s pit entirely clear for a clean up to commence.

FR 20's boiler hangs above the framesWith Ade as banksman, the boiler was lifted off the lowmac and is seen hanging above the frames in the RSR workshop.

The boiler being lowered into the framesAfter some tweaking of the front right bottom of the smokebox, which had splayed out very slightly, the boiler was successfully reunited with the frames.

The chimney is lowered into placeAn added bonus was the chance to re-fit the chimney which Keith had thoughtfully extracted from the depths of the FRT shed.

FR 20 waits to be shuntedThe new combo was then shunted outside ready for despatch to the FRT shed.

Progress shunting FR 20's engine back to the FRT shedProgress again did the honours.

FR 20 back homeFR 20 was duly parked back in the FRT shed before 15.00 and, with assistance from Ade and Tim, Walkden‘s boiler was put in place on the lowmac ready for its own journey towards hydraulic and steam tests.

Finally, in other news, Cumbria has undertaken a pre-Santa test train at Embsay and Keith has been to Bury last Thursday and also today to assist with 5643’s preparation for service there.

Tuesday 17th November 2020

It has been another hectic week at Preston.

There was an urgent need to put GWR 0-6-0T No. 5643 back together in time for yesterday, Monday, when a Reid Freight transporter was due to take it to Bury for a period of hire to the East Lancashire Railway.

Phil inspects the brake turnbuckle on 5643The re-assembly of the brake gear was finally completed and Phil Bell is seen here giving the turnbuckle an inspection.

Keith fastens the right hand valve cover on 5643Keith assembled the front right hand valve cladding.

Keith fitting the new cab floor in 5643He then tackled the installation of the new cab floor

Paul Newton cleans some of 5643's copper pipeworkPaul Newton cleaned the copper pipework.

Phil touches up the black paintwork on 5643's brass numberplatesPhil Bell then touched up the black paint on the brass numberplates.

Finally, Keith put back the cab fittings which had been removed to allow the fitting of three new stays. All that was necessary now was to oil around and assist Adrian in shunting the locomotive to the front of the FRT shed. 5643 being loaded5643 was moved around to the unloading road on Monday morning ready for loading on to the transporter, which arrived just after 10.30.

5643 ready for the roadA couple of hours later 5643 was ready for the road, but shortly before departure a consignment of castings arrived from the Severn Valley Railway, and it was possible to load 5643’s new replacement brake blocks on to the well of the transporter. They call it ‘just in time’ in industry, but this was rather close to call!

Time then to turn attention to Furness Railway No. 20’s boiler. A test steaming had taken place last Wednesday which was satisfactory apart from the fact that some priming out of the safety valves took place because the boiler was tilted forward on the lowmac.

The alignment of the boiler was corrected last Friday, but this meant that the safety valves could only be erected after the boiler had left the running shed on the day of the steaming for the boiler surveyor in order to avoid a conflict with the shed door! Ade feeding FR 20's firebox during the test steaming on Wednesday, 11th.Adrian duly left his bed well before daylight yesterday to arrive at Preston at 07.10 to draw the boiler out of the shed and to light the fire.

Alan at workAlan, John Dixon, and Sam Crawley duly appeared to assist which mostly consisting of breaking up wood from the RSR’s huge wood pile in order to feed FR 20’s voracious firebox.

Blowing off for the boiler surveyorWe are pleased to be able to report that 120 psi was achieved just before 2 pm and in good time for boiler surveyor to conduct his inspection…. Alan Bennett inspects the firebox on FR 20's boilerbefore giving it the thumbs up.

Alan Bennett, Adrian Tomkinson, Alan Middleton, Sam Crawley and John Dixon smiling behind their masks after a successful testThe gang is seen here in celebratory move with Alan Bennett.

Amongst the castings received from the Severn Valley Railway was a new vacuum cylinder for Wootton Hall’s tender which will now need to be machined.

Finally, there has been good news from Embsay today in that Cumbria passed its annual steam test for the boiler surveyor.

Tonight the Trustees are meeting virtually by Zoom. The biggest issue will be how to devour Alison’s virtual sandwiches!

Monday 9th November 2020

FR 20's boiler ready for a fire to be litFR 20’s boiler is now ready for a fire to be lit after more preparatory work was carried out on it last week in the RSR running shed. The valves were lapped in after the seats had been re-fitted  on to the dome. This took quite some time, but patience is a virtue when working on steam locomotives! The fitting of the gauge glasses, pressure gauge and safety valve springs followed along with a minor  adjustment to one of the firebars (it conflicted with one of the new patch screws) and it is intended to light a fire this next Wednesday.

John Dixon removing the screws holding the numbers on FR 20's buffer beamBack in the FRT shed, John Dixon painstakingly removed the screws holding the brass numbers on the front buffer beams; these hadn’t been moved for over twenty years so it provided quite a challenge.

Paintwork ready for a refreshHowever, the front buffer beam was finally ready for Tim to start a refresh of the paintwork.

FR 20's valances primedThe valances have now been primed following the removal of the old paint.

John Davis drilling holes in FluffWork continued on Fluff with John Davis drilling holes in a new cab sheet to accommodate the re-used angle support.

The wood for 5643's new cab floorThe wood for 5643’s new cab floor arrived last Wednesday and RSR’s joiner, John Morgan, kindly came in on Saturday to plane and cut it to size.John Morgan planing the new wood for 5643's cab floor

With the locomotive due to leave Preston shortly, it was all hands to the pump to re-fit the brake gear and also the new brake blocks that Keith had picked up from the East Lancashire Railway at Bury. Keith fitting one of the last bolts to 5643's brake gearKeith is seen here under the loco fitting one of the last bolts to the brake gear.

Work to fit three new firebox stays is due to take place tomorrow (Tuesday) after which it will be necessary to re-fit various cab fittings as well as the new floor. There is certainly no shortage of work to do at the moment!

The new valve liners for Wootton HallThere has also been a bit of progress to report with Wootton Hall where the new (shrink wrapped) replacement valve liners have finally arrived after having been delayed by the pandemic. The liners will need to be machined and then, themselves, shrink fitted when ready.

Finally, there has been good news from Embsay in that the FRT’s Hunslet 0-6-0ST Cumbria passed its cold boiler exam today.

Monday 2nd November 2020

Ade with a boiler support trestleWork has continued on the overhaul of Furness Railway No. 20 where preparations are being made for an out-of-frames steaming of the boiler on the 16th November. In deference to the fact that the boiler is sitting on Dave Watkins’ lowmac, we will be doing our best not to set fire to its wooden decking! The first stage to protect it was to remove the wooden packing beneath the firebox (old sleepers) and replace it with a purpose built steel trestle. “A ten minute job,” said an optimistic Adrian as he rolled up with the new trestle, but if truth be told it took a good 25 minutes for Ade, John and Tim to jack up the boiler and fit the new trestle into position, exerting a fair amount of ‘grunt’ along the way.The boiler on its new support

John Dixon's line up of nuts and bolts for FR 20John Dixon has continued his work in preparing new and second hand dome headed bolts for fitting to FR 20’s chimney, smokebox and frames. The are seen here neatly painted and laid out ready for action.

Alan polishing his ringAlan, meanwhile, has been applying some emery paper to clean up the recently machined valve seats.

Fred self isolatingWork on refurbishing the dome cover has also progressed, with Fred seen here finding a great way to self-isolate whilst cleaning the internal surfaces!

Keith cleaning the firehole door support for 5643Keith, continuing his work on 5643, is seen here undertaking the less glamorous job of de-crudding the firehole door support. Keith has also been working with Andy Booth to identify any suspect stays that can be replaced whilst the loco is sidelined for maintenance.

Fluff's new front cab sheetsFinally, we must not forget the continuing efforts to rejuvenate Fluff where Phil and John Davis have fitted the new front cab sheets this week.

The latest Lockdown restrictions, which come into force on Thursday, do not preclude people from volunteering. It is expected therefore that some essential work will continue during the lockdown period. Details will be briefed at the Wednesday working party.

Monday 26th October 2020

Ade at the controls of ProgressLast Wednesday saw the successful transfer of FR 20’s boiler from the FRT shed to the RSR running shed where it can be steamed for the boiler surveyor. Both Keith and Ade were assisting Ribble Rail last week and we see Ade here at the controls of Ribble Railway’s Sentinel Progress during the shunt.

Keith taking a ride on Fluff as it is shuntedFluff had to be moved out of the way and is seen here being shunted with Keith on board.

FR 20's boiler being moved to the west of the siteThe boiler was then released and moved to the west of the site.

Alan on top of FR 20's boilerAlan is seen here preparing the dome to receive the valve seats after machining.

John Dixon cleaning the base of FR 20's chimneyBack inside the FRT shed John Dixon has been cleaning and painting the base of FR 20’s chimney.

John Dixon making new domed smokebox retaining bolts for FR 20John then set about making new domed bolts that will secure the smokebox to the frames.

Fred removing paint from FR 20's left hand valanceFred has now finished cleaning old paint from the engine’s valances.

FR 20's dome cover being prepared for painting.Tim has been busy hand-sanding the dome cover ready for painting.

John Davis painting Fluff's cab spectacle plateThere has been more work on Fluff including work by John Davis to prime the front cab spectacle plate.

Cumbria' re-painted rear buffer beamOver at Embsay work has been taking place on the FRT’s ‘Austerity’
0-6-0ST Cumbria in readiness for its 14 month cold boiler inspection which has been brought forward to the 9th November. This is to enable the loco to operate the planned Santa Special programme of trains there. The rear buffer beam has been re-painted.

Cumbria being readied for SantaA similar refresh is seen here being carried out on the front buffer beam.

Finally, a couple of our volunteers have recently sought guidance about travelling to Preston to volunteer during the operation of the three tier Covid-19 restrictions. Recent Government advice supports voluntary work such as that carried out by FRT members and the following extracts are shown for peace of mind:

“At all three alert levels whilst providing voluntary services:
you are exempt from social gathering restrictions;
you can travel within and between different local COVID alert level areas to volunteer.”

The full advice on volunteering can be found here.