Monday 27th June 2022

There was more steady progress on projects again this last week.

Ade working on Caliban's valve spindlesAde has been wrestling with Caliban’s valve spindles.

John Davis removing old leatherette from the interior of GER No. 5The overhaul of Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon GER No. 5 moves on, with John Davis seen here removing the old leatherette to allow more detailed inspection of the interior and then planned replacement by moquette.

John Dixon painting the new gas bottle cageJohn Dixon is nearing completion of the new gas bottle cage, the concrete base for which was laid as planned last Wednesday.

Keith has been back to Bury to assist with the replacement of broken springs on Great Western Railway 0-6-2T locomotive No. 5643. The damaged springs have been sent away for repair and will hopefully soon be back at the East Lancashire Railway.

Finally, we hear that Sam had a good day firing Grant Richie No. 272 on Saturday when he was being assessed as a potential fireman.

No blog next week due to a holiday – yes another holiday!!

Monday 20th June 2022

There was a small gathering at Beetham Crematorium last Friday to say goodbye to Andy MacGregor, with a drink at the Wheatsheaf, Beetham afterwards. A full obituary for Andy, who died on the 18th May at the untimely age of 63, will be included in the next issue of The Iron Horse.

Gas lamp housings and tops all fitted to GER No. 5We are nearing the end of work on the roof of Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5. John Dixon is finishing off a few jobs before it will be time to apply several coats of white paint onto the roof. The tops have now been fitted to the gas lamp housings.

The end of the chaise longue that has been removed for reupholsteringPhil and Anne Burton appeared last Wednesday and we are pleased to be able to report that Anne has been making good progress after damaging her arm in a fall away from the railway. The end of the chaise longue has been removed for further investigation prior to being reupholstered.

The transformed woodwork in the corridor of GER 5The woodwork inside the corridor of the coach has been transformed with the removal of old varnish which has been painstakingly carried out by the very patient and dedicated team. Measurements were taken last week with a view to ordering some replacement veneer where it is needed.

Ade has continued his work on Caliban where options for procuring a new piston are being considered. Matt Crabtree working on Wootton Hall's tenderMatt Crabtree was back at work on Wootton Hall’s tender on Saturday where he has been practising his welding skills.

The smoothed-off filler on the left hnd side of Wootton hall's tender tank.The lower part of the left hand tender side has now received a layer of filler to even out all the old paintwork. Good use has been made of the new dustless sanding machine in preparing the surface for a first coat of paint.

John Dixon working on the new gas bottle cageAnother project taking shape has been the creation  of the new gas bottle cage, with John Dixon seen here working on it. Concrete for the base has been ordered for 4 pm this Wednesday afternoon. Bring your wellies if you would like to lend a hand.

Dave Starkie with Alan Middleton and Keith BrewerThis week’s “seats of the week” photo sees Dave Starkie making a welcome return to speak to Alan Middleton and Keith Brewer.

Sam Middleton on Grant Richie No. 272Finally, Sam Middleton is taking his practical firing test this next Saturday. He was spotted having some pre-exam practice on Grant Richie No. 272 last Saturday. Good luck, Sam!

Monday 6th June 2022

Just a short update after the half term holiday break.

We now have details of Andy MacGregor’s funeral. This will take place at Beetham Hall Crematorium, LA7 7BQ, at 12.30 pm on Friday, 17th June. Please pass the message on to those who may not read this blog.

Rain strips, gas lamp housings and torpedo vents refitted on to the roof of GER No. 5Work has continued on Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5 where the gas lamp housings and torpedo vents now have been re-fitted to the roof. Again, there has been more progress in refurbishing the interior woodwork.

Further progress has also been made by Matt Crabtree in welding in replacement steelwork into Wootton Hall‘s tender tank. Matthew Owen grinding old steelwork in readiness for inserting a new steel plate.Young Matthew Owen, having achieved a welding certificate, also appeared a week last Wednesday to lend a hand and is seen here grinding rust from the old steelwork in readiness to weld in new plate. Needless to say, Matthew found that welding rusty metal is more of a challenge than the pristine steel found in the college workshop!

FR 20 at Preston Riverside on Sunday, 5th JuneFinally, the Jubilee Weekend saw Furness Railway No. 20 in service at Preston on both the 4th and 5th June, complete with headboard and flags.

Monday 23rd March 2022

A young Andy MacGregorWe are sorry to have to start this week’s blog with the sad news that Andy MacGregor passed way last Tuesday night, having been in care for some years after having suffered a stroke. Andy was a prominent working member of the Lakeside Railway Society, becoming a fireman and tackling all sorts of jobs during his time at Haverthwaite. He also joined in the busy social life that we had in those days. He joined British Rail’s S&T department and, after living at Crewe, Shirley and Timperley, finally returned “home” with his family to Kendal. We send our heartfelt condolences to wife Gill and sons James and Robert. We have not yet received details of Andy’s funeral.

GER No. 5's roof with the rain strips being re-fittedWork has continued at Preston on the overhaul of Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5.  John Dixon has bee re-fitting the rain strips on the roof.

Ed, John Davis and Roger have continued their work in cleaning old varnish from interior woodwork whilst Phil has replaced some of the corridor ceiling which had been damaged by water ingress. Fred painting a gas lamp housing lid for GER No. 5Fred has started the process of painting the gas lamp housing lids ready for them to be re-fitted.

The Trustees held a short meeting last Tuesday evening (yes, it lasted less than thirty minutes) at which they approved expenditure on a new dustless sanding machine, new filters for the fume extractors and also the machining of a new screw and nut for Wootton Hall’s reverser.

Sam cleaning up the Jubilee Queen headboard - hope he doesn't wake up Alan!Finally, there has been a request for Furness Railway No. 20 to haul Ribble Steam Railway’s trains over the Jubilee weekend and so time was taken by Sam last Wednesday to clean up a headboard dating back to L&HR days made for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.

Monday 16th May 2022

Another short update this week.

GER 5 roof painted with yellow peril and boiled linseed oil mix and with gas lamp housing bases fitted.John Dixon has now completed the re-fitting of the cornice mouldings on the upper sides of Great Eastern Royal Saloon No. 5 which meant the he and Tim were able to apply a 50:50 mix of canvas bonding paste and boiled linseed oil to the whole of the canvas on the roof last Wednesday. Friday then saw the gas lamp bases being fitted from under the roof in readiness for the upper sections to be fitted at a future date.

John Dixon fitting the rain strips on GER No. 5John has since been assembling the roof rain strips for fitting.

The torpedo vents painted whiteThe torpedo vents have been painted undercoat white, again in readiness for fitting.

Keith paid a visit to an engineering firm in Halifax that used to supply the all important screw for screw reversers to British railways in steam days. A new screw has now been commissioned for former GWR 4-6-0 locomotive No. 4979 Wooton Hall.

Finally, this being a short and sweet update leaves room for the following treat! Local film maker Gary Cunliffe has been putting together a short historical documentary telling the story of Furness Railway No. 20. He has used recent film footage taken at the Ribble Steam Railway and referred to The Iron Horse and the publication The Great Survivor which detailed FR 20’s history and restoration. It really is lovely and well worth a watch!

Monday 9th May 2022

A short update this week.

FR 20 viewed from the cab of shunter StanlowFurness Railway locomotive No, 20 arrived back at Preston safe and sound last Thursday morning after its successful visit to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. Ade was on hand to shunt it around to the FRT shed where it now requires a clean to remove the inevitable road film gained on its journey. The opportunity has been taken to remove the water from the boiler and a full washout may be carried out depending upon what is found when removing the bottom wash out plugs. The observant will notice that the locomotive is now facing west rather than east, the outcome of having to re-route the low loader under a low bridge to avoid using the overbridge at Quainton which has now had a 3 ton limit imposed. The chimney of the loco therefore needed to be placed adjacent to the neck on the low loader instead of above the rear wheels.

John Dixon fitting the gutters on GER No.5Work has continued both inside and outside Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5. Work is progressing well on removing old varnish from the interior woodwork and those concerned are to be congratulated on their perseverance. John Dixon has been fitting and sealing the upper wooden gutters which also help to retain the roof canvas in place. The next job will be to apply a mix of bonding paste and boiled linseed oil to the canvas on the roof.

Wootton Hall's tender tank being prepared for eventual painting.Tim is making slow but steady progress on preparing the outside of Wootton Hall‘s tender tank for eventual painting.

Finally, a quote has been accepted by the Trustees for the manufacture of a new saddle tank for Caliban. Unfortunately, the RSR’s rail crane is still being overhauled so a visit from a hi-ab operator has been arranged for Wednesday to assess the feasibility of retrieving the locomotive’s old tank from the undergrowth near the RSR running shed, to allow it to be used as a pattern for the replacement.

Tuesday 3rd May 2022

Some of the FRT team have been away on a trip south so the blog is a day late this week.

Firstly, we mentioned in last week’s blog that the Trust’s GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643 was being lit up last Thursday for a test run at the East Lancashire Railway following adjustments to the length of its eccentric rods. Keith has reported back that the adjustments have been a success and that the locomotive performed well as a result of this work. Well done to those concerned.

FR 20 with the BRC's vintage carriages.Furness Railway 0-4-0 No. 20 set off from Preston last Wednesday morning for a trip south to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre for the Spring Steam Gala there. Alan and Alison departed the following day, Tim on Friday morning and then Ade early on Saturday morning, all staying at the Premier Inn at Aylesbury. Alan spent Friday with our long term friend Frank Boait ensuring that the locomotive was back in one piece after the re-fitting of the sand pipes and guard irons and then Saturday saw steam being raised on FR 20 and the usual fitness to run examination. There was then time to shunt the three vintage carriages to be used and to take some photographs in the sunshine.

The Ffos-y-Fran ovoids in FR 20's tenderOne of the most notable things when boarding the footplate was the presence of black ovoids in the tender, made from compressed coal dust from the Ffos-y-Fran surface mine in Wales. There were warnings that a good wood fire was necessary as a base to getting the ovoids to burn, but in fact there were no problems as long as the ovoids were given time ‘to cook’ before heat was required. There was, however, some clinker on the fire grate at the end of each operating day, but that did not appear to affect FR 20’s ability to steam!

Alison tucked away in the waiting room at QuaintonSunday was the quieter of the two day Gala and Alison, who had brought down some FRT merchandise with her, needed to shelter from the fresh breeze and showers in the waiting room.

Alison and Alan outside with the FRT sales stand on Monday at QuaintonHowever, warmer weather on the Monday brought out more visitors and there was a constant steam of passengers for FR 20’s vintage train rides. People seemed very impressed with the appearance of the locomotive and Alison, now in a prominent place on the platform, was able to take a tidy sum for the FRT.

Ade, John and Tim taking a seat on the miniature railway at QuaintonAde, Alan and Tim took in turns to assist on the footplate which allowed a chance to explore the extensive site and view the other four locomotives in steam. Sam and John Dixon visited on Sunday and we have yet another of our Seats of the Week photographs when Ade, John and Tim sampled the splendid miniature railway which has a home on the site.

As far as the domestic arrangements were concerned, the Premier Inn was adjacent to the Horse and Jockey pub which provided excellent food and real ale each night over the weekend – something perhaps to remember for the future! All too soon it was time to start packing up and, with a full team available on Monday evening, it didn’t take long to prepare FR 20 for its homeward journey before saying a goodbye to friends old and new at Quainton and having a final dinner at the pub. FR 20 is due back at Preston on Wednesday.

Monday 25th April 2022

Back to our regular Monday blog spot.

Keith arrived on Wednesday with some bent lubrication pipework from 5643 for John Dixon to rectify after a visit to Bury the previous day. For the second time a couple of the pipes had snagged with the crosshead link to the vacuum pump which hadn’t done them any good! They should be re-fitted tomorrow and then 5643 will be given a test run to check the effects of some fine tuning to the valve gear. Dave Reynolds at the East Lancashire Railway had calculated that the eccentric rods needed shortening by between 1/4″ and 3/16″. Keith will be going to Bury this Thursday to witness the outcome of this work.

Keith continues to fabricate the new screw reverser for Wootton HallBack at Preston Keith has been progressing the manufacture of the new reverser for former GWR 4-6-0 No. 4979 Wootton Hall.

Phil Bell and John Davis with seats of the week.Work has continued with the removal of varnish from the interior of  Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5, with Phil Bell and John Davis taking advantage of the good weather last Wednesday lunchtime to have a seats of the week photo taken!

John Dixon working on the replacement step boards for GER No. 5John Dixon has been making up some replacement step boards for GER No. 5 with wood provided by Fred Jones.

Paul Newton removing paint from the Furness Railway bench castingsPaul Newton has been removing old paint from the metal castings on the former Furness Railway bench.

FR 20 taking water at Preston RiversideFurness Railway No. 20 operated the Ribble Steam Railway’s train service on Saturday coincident with a visit from the Industrial Railway Society which was holding its AGM at the Railway that day. We are pleased to report that, after the previous adjustments to the right hand crosshead and big end, the loco performed very well. It is seen here taking a drop of water at the column to see it through to the end of the day. Alan and Sam have been back on site today to prepare the loco for the low loader that will transport it to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre on Wednesday. FR 20 will be taking part in the BRC’s Spring Steam gala this next Sunday and Monday along with four other steam locos and is due to be back at Preston the following Wednesday.

Spot the FRT memberSam was missing at Preston on Saturday having taken advantage of an invitation to travel on the Festiniog Railway’s famous gravity slate train. Here it is with no less than three FRT members on board!

Tim on FR 20 with the FRT headboardFinally, it has been commented that the blog rarely contains a photo of Tim, mainly because he is usually the one taking photos of others! However, Diane Muldowney caught Tim on camera on Saturday and kindly sent us this picture of him holding the FRT headboard on FR 20 at the end of the day.

Tuesday 19th April 2022

We are back with a blog after a short holiday break.

5643 ready to leave Bury Bolton street on the 7th April 2022We are pleased to report that former GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643 has been back in service and operated successfully at the East Lancashire Railway after its winter maintenance programme. A view inside 5643's cabWe have a couple of photos here courtesy of Sam Middleton who had a ride on the locomotive as owner’s representative on Thursday, 7th April.

Cumbria in full flightThe Trust’s ‘Austerity 0-6-0ST locomotive Cumbria has also been back in action at the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway after having had a failed tube replaced. Thanks to the Embsay Shed News Facebook page for the photo.

Clear road ahead for FR 20Back at Preston, Alan and Sam have been adjusting the cotter pin that holds the right hand piston rod into the crosshead on Furness Railway locomotive No. 20, after which it double-headed one service train on the Ribble Steam Railway on Sunday and took two service trains on its own. Sam cleaning FR 20It is planned to be operating the RSR’s service this next Saturday, when the Railway will be hosting the Annual General Meeting of the Industrial Railway Society.

Paul Balshaw placing the stodgy yellow peril on the roof of GER No. 5There has been a key step forward with the overhaul of Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5 with the gluing down of the new canvas onto the wooden roof. Firstly, one half of the canvas was rolled back to allow John Dixon, Paul Balshaw and Tim to spread the ‘yellow peril’ glue onto the southern side of the roof on Wednesday, 6th April. Ready to roll back the canvas on GER No. 5After a pause for lunch, the canvas was then pressed down onto the glue using John’s hand made wooden tamping blocks. The second side was then glued down the following Wednesday by John, Ed and Tim. John pinning down the end of the canvasThe next job, which John has also started, is to prepare to refit the end and side beading strips.

Roger removing varnish from a door on GER 5Inside the coach there has been further progress on the removal of old varnish from the woodwork by  Roger, John Davis working in the corridor of GER No. 5John Davis, Fred finishing what Roger startedFred and Neil (but we only have photos of the first three!).

Work has continued on Caliban with Ade removing the piston heads from the piston rods. A quote for a new saddle tank has been accepted and the next job will be to liberate the old tank from the weeds near the RSR’s running shed so that it can be used as a pattern.

Finally there has been more welding on Wootton Hall’s tender and Tim has been hiding some of the new side patches with filler and paint. Ian Massey from Stoke-on-Trent has also been to do some welding on the new screw reverse mechanism which is being made for 4979, with Keith then taking that project further forward.

Monday 4th April 2022

Well we’re back to normal this week after recovery from the virus, and there’s plenty to report.

Fitting the new valvesFirst of all we head off to Bury where the Tuesday Gang has been putting 5643 back together after the receipt of the refurbished valves back from Tyseley and the subsequent machining of the valve spindle bearings to suit. The photo shows Keith at work with the refitting of the valves, which fitted very snugly we are told.

Valves fittedOnce fitted it was time to fit the valve covers and then the front buffer beam. Keith took the loco for a short test run up the sidings before the formal steam test which took place on Friday. 5643 is now scheduled to operate on the East Lancs Railway later this week. Well done to all those involved in the winter work programme.

Andy Booth cutting out the failed tube on CumbriaMoving over to Embsay, we were surprised and sorry to have learnt that one of Cumbria‘s tubes had shown signs of leakage a week last Friday. However, we have some spare unused tubes at Preston from the same batch, a couple of which were picked up by Matt Anderson on Wednesday and fitted by Andy Booth on Thursday. Cumbria is scheduled to be back in service at Embsay tomorrow. Thanks to everyone for the quick remedial action taken to get the loco back in service.

Repaired and painted torpedo vents ready for re-fittingBack at Preston work has continued on Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5 to the point that we cannot find any more excuses to delay gluing down the new canvas onto the roof. The torpedo vents have been repaired and painted.

GER No. 5's gas lamp housings reay for re-fittingSimilarly, the former gas lamp housings are also lined up in the shed ready for use.

John Davis taking time off from his work in the royal saloon to enjoy a cup of teaWe may all be very busy with all the work going on but John Davis took a little time off from cleaning old varnish from the interior of GER No. 5 to enjoy a cuppa!

Two of the new wooden tamping blocks ready for actionJohn Dixon has been manufacturing four wooden tamping blocks which will be used to seal the canvas on to the glued roof surface. All being well we will be gluing down the southern half of the canvas on GER No. 5 this Wednesday.

New steel plates welded into the side of Wootton Hall's tender tankFinally, Ribble Rail full timer Matt Crabtree, who is currently undertaking a Level 2 welding course, is very usefully taking the opportunity to weld new plates into Wootton Hall’s tender tank to keep his hand in on the practical side of welding.

A view of future repairs required on Wootton Hall's tender tank!This photo shows that there will be plenty of opportunity for further practice!