Monday 12th November 2018

Ed and Alan move Caliban's wheelsThere was a productive shunt last Wednesday when FR 20’s boiler was moved into the FRT shed to enable work to commence under cover. At the same time it was possible to release Caliban‘s wheels which were moved out by hand, with Ed Tatham and Alan Middleton seen here with the driving set. Thanks to Phil, Matt B and Ade who moved the stock around to make it all happen.

John Davis still up in the airJohn Davis and Paul Balshaw spent more time this week in their efforts to release more of the south side cantrail on GER 5 while Paul Newton continued work on the L&NWR platform seat.

John Dixon and Ed continue the demolition of the PMVJohn Dixon and Ed spent time on Wednesday dismantling the body on the PMV.

Mike Rigg attempts to remove some of Fluff's footplateHoward, Alan Ogden and Mike Rigg concentrated their efforts on Fluff, with Mike seen here trying to remove a stubborn piece of the cab footplate.

Keith, George and Fred spent Wednesday over at Embsay preparing 5643 for its 14 month cold boiler exam, which is scheduled to take place at 10.00 on Friday, 16th November.

Roger attends to the water pump with assistance from FredFred was back at Preston on Friday with Roger and brought back from Embsay the high pressure water pump which was suffering from wobbly wheels! Roger set about making the necessary repairs and then subsequently also repaired the fan in the mess room which had disintegrated the previous week.

Keith bolts on the tender steps fixing plate.There was a further riveting session last Thursday although the absence of Matt G reduced the number of rivets fitted. There will be another session next Thursday. Keith is seen here fitting a step retaining bracket on the tender frames.

Bill Croston's new mural in place by the playgroundAnd finally, outside the FRT shed, Bill Croston’s new mural has been erected alongside the new children’s playground.

Monday 5th November 2018

Unlike last week’s blog, there is no headline news this week. Just lots of things to do!

Last Wednesday saw the start of a massive shunt devised by Matt Gervis which should see all the winter projects on site in their rightful places. Eventually this will see both FR 20’s frames and boiler undercover in the FRT shed so that the ten year overhaul can progress.

Ade and Andy Beswick with the Class 47 cab.The first part of the shunt involved the transfer of the Class 47 cab from the Ribble Rail shed to the workshop where it will be turned around with the crane before being put on display in the museum. Ade and Andy Beswick are seen here conducting the move of the Class 47 at an appropriate slow walking pace. Unfortunately, despite their patience, one set of wheels on the accommodation bogie ran hot and seized about 200 yards further down the line, which brought the shunt to a premature halt whilst things cooled down and oil was liberally applied to those parts that needed it. The tendency of diesel Stanlow to dump its air without notice also delayed matters so it is now anticipated that the next stage of the shunt will take place next Wednesday.

John Dixon prods a stubborn brick arch in FR 20's fireboxMeanwhile, John Dixon and Tim set about removing the brick arch from FR 20’s firebox. This, like the shunt above, turned out to be a rather longer job than anticipated owing to the fact that the arch did not appear to have deteriorated over the past ten years. However, two and a half hours later the final piece fell to the ground to be barrowed away and the weltrol tidied.

Keith and Alan with Cumbria's fireman's side clack boxCumbria‘s clackbox has recently been brought back to Preston for attention, it being replaced at Embsay by one of their own. Keith and Alan can been seen here dismantling the various items and it looks as if we will need to order a special, no doubt expensive, tap to clean up some of the threads inside the body.

Alan Ogden and Howard with FluffAlan Ogden has appeared again from the deep south west and was at work with Howard on Fluff.

John Davis works on GER 5John Davis has been continuing with the long and tedious task of removing the cantrails from the GER Royal Saloon as a prelude to the canvas roof being replaced. John achieved the removal of the middle section of the south cantrail this week. Well done!

The riveting gang met again on Thursday for a productive session during which another fifty or so rivets were fitted to Wootton Hall‘s tender frames.

Roger Benbow removing wood from the PMVVarious people have been assisting with the removal of the top of the PMV and John Dixon and Roger followed up their work on Friday by removing most of the remaining wood whilst Fred enjoyed a seasonal bonfire with the unwanted pieces of wood.Fred and his pre 5th November bonfire

Bob Thomson appeared on Friday to continue his work on drawings for Wootton Hall and Mike Rigg received some ribbing from fellow members for finding a nice warm office in which he has been sorting out a backlog of RSR membership forms.

Looking forward, Keith and Fred will be travelling over to Embsay on Wednesday to commence the task of preparing 5643 for its 14 month boiler survey which is booked to take place on the 16th November. Further working parties there are likely on either Friday of Saturday.

Monday 29th October 2018

We start with the news that FR 20’s boiler was successfully lifted out of the frames at Preston on Saturday afternoon. John Dixon, Ade and Tim had spent time on Wednesday clearing the chosen weltrol wagon of springs and other miscellaneous items and then loading old sleepers which would support the boiler when loaded. The threesome returned on Saturday when rail entry to the workshop was easier with the service rake of coaches absent and in use.

John and Ade arrange the lifting straps on FR 20's boilerAndy Murphy offered to operate the crane and, after fitting the lifting straps a few test lifts were made to adjust the positions after which a perfectly level lift was achieved.

A perfect liftThe boiler was turned around to enable easier extraction of the tubes when the weltrol is finally shunted into road two of the FRT shed.

John waiting for the weltrolAfter some re-arrangement of the sleepers, the boiler was finally lowered on to the weltrol. A key milestone in the overhaul of FR 20 had been achieved.FR 20's boiler on the weltrol

Andy Murphy lights the gas axeWednesday saw the start of the removal of the body from the newly acquired PMV. Andy Murphy is seen here preparing to light the gas axe.

The JCB at workOnce some of the stanchions had been cut through the JCB was brought in to pull the components apart.

PMV looking a bit sadJohn Dixon and Chris Rycroft achieved some further destruction on Friday with a jig saw and, being the thrifty fellow that he is, John retrieved some of the wooden panelling for further use.

There was no riveting session on Wootton Hall‘s tender on Thursday owing to the indisposition of Matt Gervis. However, there has been good progress on painting the newly riveted front section of the frames. Keith with the rear buffer beam for Wootton Hall's tender ready for rivetingKeith is seen here with the rear buffer beam which is now ready for riveting into place.

Alien called George at workWe had another ‘Dr Who’ invasion on Saturday, but this alien, named George, was happy to be put to productive work removing rivet heads.

There has been some further progress by Ade with the decoration of Caliban‘s frames. Fred painting Fluff's framesFluff has received more attention from Howard, Alan Ogden and Fred, who applied some primer paint to the frames.

John Davis at work on GER 5Some further progress as made on Friday by Mike and John Davis on removing the cantrails from GER Royal Saloon No. 5.

Finally, Alison and Alan appeared on Friday to set up the FRT sales stand which Alison staffed over the Spooky Trains weekend.


Monday 22nd October 2018

With Tim taking a short walking break in the Scottish Lowlands this week, the blog has been compiled from notes and photos provided by Mike.

Ade and John Dixon continued work on Caliban and FR 20 respectively last Wednesday whilst Howard, John Davis and Mike worked on Fluff, removing part of the footplate and also some of the gear linkages which are stiff.

Newly riveted foot steps for Wootton Hall's tenderKeith was busy preparing for another riveting session on Thursday. The footsteps shown in last week’s blog have now had the steps riveted into place permanently.

Matt Gervis and Keith Brewer riveting Wootton Hall's tender framesMatt Gervis and Keith are seen here riveting whilst an aerial shot shows Wootton Hall’s tender frames and also Chris Rycroft, who was cutting the rivets to size.Aeirial view of Matt Gervis, Keith and Chris Rycroft during riveting operations

John Dixon heating up a rivetJohn Dixon is seen here heating up one of the rivets; a total of around 50 were fitted last Thursday.

John Davis and Paul Newton emptying the PMVThe main event on Friday was the emptying of the newly acquired PMV in readiness for the body to be removed.PMV ready for body removal

The chassis will eventually be used for the second class North London Railway coach body which is currently in store at Blackpool. In the shorter term it may well be used to store the frames for FR 25 when they arrive from Carnforth.

Fred and Bob were also present on Friday with Fred cleaning FR 20’s components and Bob preparing drawings for Wootton Hall.

Newly manufactured cog for Wootton Hall's reverserIn the main workshop Bill Norton has machined up a cog which will eventually form part of Wootton Hall‘s reverser – it is seen here with the reverser handle.

Saturday saw the removal of some Sentinel wheels from the Weltrol which is planned to be used to accommodate FR 20’s boiler. Hopefully a boiler lift can be arranged this week.

Looking forward, there are Spooky Trains at the Ribble Steam Railway this next weekend and it won’t be too long before the Santa Specials in December. Alison is looking for help for anyone who can assist with the latter trains.

Monday 15th October 2018

FR 20’s boiler is now ready for lifting after more concerted work by our friendly alien who answers to the name of John – see last week’s blog. Ade is on standby to do the necessary shunt with the receiving wagon and we await further details as to when the lift can be arranged.

Meanwhile, work continues on cleaning up and painting the various components that have been removed from FR 20, with Fred and Tim making further progress. Once painted, the labelled components are placed into store.

Paul Balshaw painting Caliban's cabAde has once again been prettying Caliban‘s frames with his paint brush whilst Paul Balshaw and John Davis have been making the most of some decent weather by putting more undercoat paint on the cab. John Davis painting Caliban's cabRoger has continued his work on cleaning and painting the eccentrics.

Wootton Hall's tender cab steps ready for rivetingThere has been more work on Wootton Hall including the behind the scenes preparation of drawings by Bob who was present on Friday. The Thursday riveting gang of Keith, John Dixon and Matt Gervis has again convened. This photo taken last Wednesday shows the steps which give access to the cab ready for attention from the rivet gun.

There was good news on the former FRT RMB’s electrics, which had been causing heads to be scratched when the batteries wouldn’t charge. Russ Walker found a faulty fuse – but one which had supposedly already been checked and found to be OK! Anyhow, this success should enable Mike to get up off his knees and attend to other things. Incidentally, Mike and Dave Starkie attended a carriage workshop at the East Lancashire railway last Wednesday which Mike says was very useful.

Howard and Keith with FluffThere has been further progress with Fluff – Howard and Keith are seen here discussing the work in hand. John Davis also did some work on cleaning the footplate on Friday.

Paul Newton at work with the L&NWR platform seatWork on the L&NWR platform seat from Preston station has also continued and Paul Newton is seen here doing some woodwork.

Richard Greenwood's photo of Wootton Hall south of Eastliegh on 3rd November 1961Finally, we wanted to share a photo from British Railways days of the FRT’s GWR ‘Hall’ Class 4-6-0 No. 4979 Wootton Hall which has been kindly sent to us today by Richard Greenwood. It shows the locomotive heading south from Eastleigh with what was presumably an inter-regional train, probably heading for Southampton and Bournemouth, on the 3rd November 1961. Thanks, Richard.

Monday 8th October 2018

There has been a wide variety of progress on the various tasks at Preston this week.

John Dixon prepares to do battle in FR 20'a smokeboxDr Who returned on TV last night, but this photo is not of an invading alien creature but of John Dixon readying himself to remove more stubborn bolts from inside FR 20’s smokebox! We are pleased to be able to record that John won the battle with the bolts and that, subject to the removal of some concrete on Wednesday, the boiler should then be ready for lifting.

Fred has been cleaning up more of FR 20’s components whilst Tim has been painting them ready for storage.

John Davis working on the gutter of the GER Royal SaloonWith the weather turning inclement, John Davis and Paul Balshaw commenced the task of removing the steel screws that hold the gutter on Royal Saloon GER No. 5 in place. This is to enable the canvas to be removed and replaced. Unfortunately, the screws have probably been in place for some sixty years so they are proving to be extremely stubborn to extract!

Ade attending to the paintwork on Caliban's framesRoger has been preparing and painting the eccentrics on Caliban‘s driving wheelset whilst Ade has continued the task of preparing and painting Caliban’s underframes a very bright red.

Jim Hanmer removing a bolt holding Fluff's engineThere has been some welcome movement forward in the overhaul of Fluff. Anthony has been joined by Howard, Alan Preston and Jim Hanmer. Their combined efforts have released the engine mounting bolts which will enable it to be lifted out. Alan Preston with FluffIt is planned that this will take place when FR 20 is shunted into the FRT shed after its boiler lift.

Mike peers into the RMB's regulator boxMike has continued his work to track down electrical faults on the former FRT RMB. He is seen here investigating the regulator box.

Ted finishing the paintwork around the new gardenOutside, Ted has made good progress with the garden adjacent to the path to the FRT shed and alongside the new playground.

The new children’s playground was successfully opened on Saturday afternoon by John Gilmour of Radio Lancashire. This coincided with the RSR’s Autumn Diesel Gala and was followed by a successful Folk Evening with Fleetwood Folk Club in the new Exploration Room.

Finally, we have received confirmation that the funeral of Charles Maher will take place at Crosscrake Church at 1 pm this Wednesday, 10th October.

Monday 1st October 2018

We start this week’s blog with the breaking news that Charles Maher, former general manager and chairman of the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway died last night after a short illness. There are no further details at present. We offer our condolences to his wife, Barbara, and family.

There has been some reasonable weather this week which has enabled a couple of the outdoor jobs to be completed.

Alison and playgroundWe have a photo of Alison sitting on one of the picnic benches in the children’s playground where the ground works have at last been finished. It looks good!

Seven people and a gateThere was just the small matter of fixing the gate to the path alongside the playground where a total of seven people can be seen either watching or undertaking the job… (well twas ever thus on the big railway, so… )

Bill Croston at work on the muralOne final piece of the jigsaw to be fitted is the new mural which will be mounted on the back of the toilet block, which is adjacent to the playground. Bill Croston is seen here putting the finishing touches to the mural on Saturday.

Although the playground is due to be officially opened next Saturday by John Gilmour of BBC Radio Lancashire, that didn’t stop some children enjoying the new facility over the Steam Gala weekend this last Saturday and Sunday. Illingworth awaits its next turn of dutyAs previously reported, Stephen Middleton’s Hudswell Clark 0-6-0ST No. 1208 of 1916 Illingworth/Mitchell was the guest locomotive.

John Davis and Caliban's cabAnother job that was completed this week was a coat of undercoat on Caliban‘s cab. John Davis is seen here with the brush.

John Dixon has been busy preparing FR 20 for its boiler lift, working hard to remove the last stubborn nuts and bolts from the main steam pipe. We will spare you another photo of John’s rear end sticking out of the smokebox. Meanwhile, Fred has again been cleaning up the components removed from the loco and Tim has been giving them a fresh coat of paint.

Ade and a shrunken AlanRoger has been giving another coat of red oxide to Caliban‘s wheelsets whilst Ade has been trial fitting the axleboxes on Caliban and agreeing clearances with Alan. The latter pair are both seen here, but Alan seems to have shrunk in the wash!

tender stepsProgress continues on Wootton Hall with yet another riveting session taking place last Thursday, resulting in these footsteps for the tender.

George reamingGeorge made an appearance on Saturday and can be seen reaming a hole on the Hall’s tender, which will receive a fitted bolt manufactured by Bill Norcross to secure one of the hornguides.

Wootton Hall's new reverser handleProgress has also been made on the creation of a screw reverser handle for Wootton Hall; more machining is still required.

NS 601 ready to leave the RSRFinally, for the record, English Electric built Nederlandse Spoorwegan diesel electric shunter No. 601 left the RSR on Wednesday to be returned to Holland for industrial use.

Monday 24th September 2018

5643 on the 12.00 to Bolton AbbeyWe start this week’s blog with the welcome news that 5643 has at last re-entered service at the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway following a lengthy lay off of nearly a year as a result of the need to renew the small tubes in the boiler. Keith attended to the safety valves last Tuesday and the boiler surveyor then gave the go-ahead for the loco to be used. A successful test train to Bolton Abbey was run on Friday following which 5643 operated the railway’s service on Saturday, seen here at Embsay with the 12.00 to Bolton Abbey.

Cumbria and 5643 at EmbsayThe following photo shows 5643 doing a yard shunt in between trains and also the FRT’s ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Cumbria which was about to be tested following the replacement of the clack box on the backhead by Keith last Tuesday.

Paul Balshaw and John Davis put red oxide on Caliban's cabWednesday turned out to be a rare dry day at Preston which enabled John Davis and Paul Balshaw to put another coat of red oxide on Caliban‘s cab and we hope that the weather this week will enable a layer of undercoat to be applied to protect the recently shot-blasted metal.

FR 20 'undressed'FR 20 has been moved out of the RSR workshop which enabled both Ade, Tim and John Dixon to move the cab sides and spectacle plate to the FRT shed on a borrowed large supermarket trolley which did the job perfectly.Supermarket sweep

Howard took the angle grinder to Fluff to release some bolts and Ade continued his beautification of Caliban‘s inside frames by rubbing down the paintwork with wet and dry paper.

Thursday saw another riveting session take placed on Wootton Hall‘s tender frames, with Matt Gervis, Keith and John Dixon doing the work again.

Tim, John Dixon and John Davis removed the fibreglass insulation from FR 20’s boiler on Friday and stored it on top of the tender. There are not too many jobs now to undertake before the boiler is ready for lifting. It is intended to remove the ashpan next Wednesday and this will enable formers to be prepared for the future new brick arch before we demolish the existing arch.

Fred and Bob appeared on Friday with Fred cleaning up more of FR 20’s components whilst Bob concentrated on preparing drawings of components for Wootton Hall‘s tender. Mike Rigg continued his work of sorting the bar electrics in the former FRT buffet car.

The TPO coach makes a rare out door appearance 210918Friday also saw the RSR’s TPO coach make a rare appearance outside the museum, still glistening after its recent paint job in the FRT shed.

70 802 in the RSR running shedElsewhere at the RSR there was an unexpected visitor in the running shed  when Colas Class 70 No. 70 802 took up residence pending the rectification of a track fault on the Strand Road level crossing.

Nearly finished - the new children's playgroundThe children’s playground is nearly ready for use, much to Alison’s relief. Work was delayed due to rain so completion of the groundworks was put back until Saturday. An official opening by Radio Lancashire’s John Gilmour is now scheduled for Saturday, 6th October.

70013 at Locomotion, ShildonFinally, it has been traditional for some FRT members to attend Locomotion’s Autumn Steam Gala at Shildon. Although FR 20 wasn’t on show there this year, Alan, Alison, Tim, Dickon and Peter van Zeller still braved the A66 roadworks to meet up with the Locomotion team, assist operations and to make or renew their acquaintance with visiting National Collection ‘Britannia’ Pacific 4-6-0 No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell plus Peckett 0-6-0ST No. 1970 of 1939 Ashington No.5/JackieMilburn from the North Tyneside Railway. Ashington No. 5 at LocomotionFortunately the weather was better than originally forecast and a good time was had by all.

Monday 17th September 2018

There is plenty of news this week.

Firstly there has been some very welcome success at Embsay to report. Keith and Ade went there on Wednesday to re-fit the regulator box using a specially prepared copper gasket following the previous failure of a graphite foil gasket. Keith and Fred then went to Embsay on Saturday and, with the assistance of staff there, fitted the superheater elements and lit a warming fire. Keith was back there again on Sunday morning with steam successfully raised to working pressure. There is just one further piece of work to do to correct one of the safety valves which is lifting light which Keith will attend to on Tuesday. A formal steam test can then be arranged to take place in the presence of the boiler surveyor.

Keith also brought back Cumbria‘s fireman’s side injector from Embsay to Preston for attention. Bill Norton with Cumbria's fireman's side stem valveBill Norton is seen here preparing to machine the joint face which had developed some unevenness on the surface which, together with some pitting on the firebox backhead had caused a gasket to blow.

Further progress was made on Wednesday and Friday with the stripping down of FR 20 in readiness for a boiler lift. John Dixon at work in FR 20's smokeboxJohn Dixon released the blast pipe nuts on Wednesday. FR 20 with steel cladding removedThen on Friday the massed forces of John, Tim, Alan, Fred and Roger managed to removed the tightly fitted steel boiler cladding (or clothing as John has pointed out it was called by the LMS) and then the crinolines. This was all transferred from the RSR workshop to the FRT shed ready for cleaning and painting.

Fred cleans up one of FR 20's sand pipesFred also managed to find time to clean up one of FR 20’s sand pipes whilst Roger occupied himself by giving a set of Caliban’s wheels a second coat of red oxide.Roger gives another coat of red oxide to Caliban's wheels

John Davis gave FR 20’s tender coal space a coat of grey undercoat on Wednesday and then started the job of preparing GERs’s bogies for a repaint.

A ghostly Mike Rigg in the former FRT RMBMike Rigg has continued his work to get the fan behind the former FRT RMB counter re-fitted and working. This has entailed the fitting of fresh woodwork to support the fan and the installation of conduit and wiring. Also in his sights is the aim to get the counter lights to work again. Mike is seen here preparing the wood framework to receive the fan.

The corner posts on the cabin in the correct shade of yellowThe corner posts on the FRT’s mess cabin have been painted to a shade of yellow which has met with the satisfaction of John Dixon, who was keen that they blended in with the FRT shed situated behind the cabin. Tim reckoned that we needed some canary yellow and remembered painting the FRT kayak that colour some thirty years ago. Sure enough Tim found the remainder of that undercoat and gloss paint at the back of his garage, which turned out to be enough to cover the corner posts. It just underlines the male argument that you should never throw anything away that might be useful at some time in the future!

Finally, we reported last week the sad death of member Jeff Mimnagh. We have now been informed that his funeral will take place at 1 pm on Wednesday, 26th September at All Saints Church, New Longton.


Tuesday 11th September 2018

A day late this week, probably because there don’t appear to be enough hours in the day at the moment!

Unfortunately we start with the sad news that Jeff Mimnargh died in hospital last Saturday. Jeff was a member of the LRC and LRS in the very early days (membership number 0075) who lived at Leyland and was a regular at the Friday evening get-togethers in the Railway Inn at Lostock Hall. He rejoined the FRT after the purchase of Wootton Hall. We are also very sorry to have to record the death of RSR member Jimmy Gardner, who helped out the FRT with his white metalling skills. Jimmy’s funeral will take place at Blackpool Crematorium at 10.00 on Friday. We offer our condolences to both Jeff and Jimmy’s families.

Turning to FRT projects, there was further progress to report at Preston last week.

Tim finished off the gloss coat of grey on the mess cabin, which just awaits the yellow on the corner posts once the correct shade of yellow is found to John’s satisfaction! This is a project that has taken many weeks in between other pressing needs in the shed and has been thwarted by extremes of weather – either too hot or too wet! And many people have been involved, so thanks to all of them. It has been a job worth doing and certainly makes the place look tidier.

Turf being laid by Ed Tatham in the new gardenAlso making a welcome improvement to the local environment has been Ed Tatham who has been working to create a garden adjacent to the children’s playground and alongside the walking route to the FRT shed. Ed is seen here lying turf which would certainly not be out of place at Wembley.

John Dixon did a final clean up of FR 20’s tender coal space on Wednesday before applying a coat of red oxide. John Davis giving a second coat of primer to FR 20's tender coal spaceA second coat of red oxide was applied on Friday by John Davis, seen here with the paint brush.

Adrian and Howard have again been busy with Caliban, with Adrian tidying up the paintwork between the frames. He has also been doing some work on FR 20, undoing the boiler expansion bracket screws ready for the time when the boiler will be lifted.

Keith has continued to have a frustrating time at Embsay preparing the surface of 5643’s smokebox to receive the regulator box. Keith and Adrian are now due to go to Embsay this Wednesday to continue the work.

Fred with the newly cleaned up vacuum pipework from FR 20Fred made further progress with cleaning up the components removed from FR 20, this time cleaning up and priming the engine’s vacuum pipework. Mike and Paul Newton spent more time on Friday with the delinquent extractor fan in the former FRT RMB before casting another couple of resin plates.

Finally there was a good representation from Preston at Crewe Crematorium on Friday for Dave Manley’s funeral. There were also representatives there from Crewe Heritage Centre where Dave was also a member.