Monday 14th May 2018

Last week we left you in suspense as to whether Alan’s failed campervan would get to Preston before midnight last Tuesday after its breakdown on the A66 at Stainmore early afternoon. We can now report that the AA finally delivered Alan and his campervan to the RSR at 00. 45 Wednesday morning. Needless to say that, after an 02.00 arrival at his bed, Alan wasn’t back with us at Preston until rather later on that day.

John David and Paul Newton sanding down GER No. 5 090518Meanwhile, Tim, Paul Newton and John Davis continued the job of sanding down Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5 whilst John Dixon filled and sanded down the various cracks in the teak panels. One of the worst cracks in the teak panels on GER No. 5The job continued on Friday when Fred and Roger joined Paul and the two Johns, with the task now well on the way to completion. John Dixon re-assembling a door after repairing a crack in the front teak panelThat’s just as well for the work really does take it toll, numbing both fingers and mind!

Howard and Adrian continued their efforts to remove Caliban‘s springs – three on the ground are pictured here last Wednesday. Adrian put in a little more time on both Thursday and Friday (he must be getting better!) and the fourth spring was off by the time that he retired from the fray. Ade is back to work this week, we hear.

Keith at work with a drill.We forgot last week to congratulate Keith on his retirement from his job with Ribble Rail on the 4th May. Needless to say, Keith is making the most of his new found leisure time to progress the tender frames for Wootton Hall. He is seen here drilling a brace section that will support the vacuum cylinder.

This next Wednesday should see some work to examine one of FR 20’s tender axleboxes which was found to be warming up during its final steamings at Locomotion. Some attention to the brass bearing looks likely in order to solve the problem.

Finally this week, the FRT’s ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Cumbria has been taken out of traffic at Embsay and washed out in readiness for it cold inspection by the boiler surveyor today. If all goes well, there will be a formal steam test early next week.

Tuesday 8th May 2018

FR 20 ready for its Last Hurrah at Shildon on Monday, 7th MayThis last weekend saw Furness Railway No. 20’s last three days of operation at Locomotion, Shildon before returning to Preston this week in readiness for its ten year boiler overhaul. Eustace Forth at Shildon which will take over from FR 20 at LocomotionLocomotion had arranged a Festival of Steam, which included the first appearance of replacement locomotive, RS&H 0-4-0ST Eustace Forth plus some road steam engines. Line up of road steam power st LocomotionThat Sentinel steam lorry was certainly an impressive beast! John and Jean Dixon, Sam Middleton and Keith Brewer visited on Sunday to enjoy the sunshine and steam.Alan and Tim with two ladies from Same Difference ArtsAlan and Tim had their photo taken with two young ladies from the Same Difference Arts who were performing street theatre in Steam Punk attire.

Staff and volunteers at Locomotion attack the cakes before FR 20's final two runs at Shildon on Monday, 7th MayFR 20 ran the last three hours on Monday on its own, with a pause at 15.30 to enable the NRM’s Anthony Coulls to make a lovely speech on behalf of Locomotion to mark the nine years that FR 20 had been based there. There then followed the cutting of two large cakes before staff and volunteers boarded the train, along with visitors, for the final two departures of the day. Needless to say, there was some loud whistling from the locomotive on the final journey (by guess who) followed by some goodbyes from Alan, Alison and Tim to the Locomotion family of staff and volunteers, some of whom had turned up on Monday to have a last go on the regulator. All in all, a fitting if not rather nostalgic occasion. Hopefully, FR 20 will be back in the not too distant future.

As of tonight, FR 20 is standing on the apron at Locomotion waiting to be loaded at 09.00 on Wednesday morning and, at the time of writing (just before 8pm) poor Alan is at Killington service station waiting for the second AA breakdown truck of the evening to take him onwards to Preston following a clutch failure on his campervan at 14.30 hrs going over Stainmore on the A66. Alison has arrived at Killington to keep him company and he hopes to be at Preston before midnight!

More synchronised sanding from John Dixon and John DavisWork has continued at Preston on sanding down the weathered sections of woodwork on GER Royal Saloon No.5, although fingers are now becoming rather numb from the effort! The worse side has now been tackled so a start has been made on one of the ends. The second side should just require a light sand to allow new varnish to key to the existing varnished surface. John Dixon and John Davis are seen here in synchronised sanding action.

Howard and Ade hard at it with CalibanAdrian made a welcome return on Wednesday after a visit to works for repairs and is seen here giving moral support to Howard as he battles with the dismantling of Caliban‘s springs.Dvid Rimmer lending a hand with Caliban on the 5th MayDavid Rimmer joined in the action on Saturday and a second spring has now been removed.

Mike Rigg and David Rimmer hard at it in the mess room stuffing envelopes with the GDPR infoMike Rigg spent most of Wednesday in the mess room, assisted by David, stuffing envelopes with GDPR correspondence, which should now have landed with members – in fact two consent forms were already back through the post on Friday, even though second class post had been used in both directions. If you haven’t already done so, please return the consent forms as quickly as possible so that the FRT can remain in full contact with you.

Progress with assembling Wootton Hall's frames after the recent welding can be seen hereAnd we leave you with a view of progress on Wootton Hall‘s tender frames, which are now gaining additional metal following the recent completion of the welding work on the side plates.

Monday 30th April 2018

GER 5 now in the shedWork started on Wednesday on the refresh of the FRT’s Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5. The coach had, as planned, been shunted into the heated part of the shed after the RSR’s TPO coach had been moved round into the museum.The TPO now in the museum Discussing next stepsTime was taken to re-familiarise with the saloon and to identify work to be done. Whilst Tim cleaned up the shed floor to remove dust and the like from the TPO overhaul, others started to move around the chairs in coach in order to hoover and tidy up one of the carpets. It would be a nice idea to replace all the carpets with something more suited to a Royal saloon, but we will have to weigh up the costs! The upholstery also needs some considerable attention and again it will be necessary to get some quotes for upgrading it.

Some of the weathered exterior on GER 5In the meantime, it was decided to attend to the exterior of the saloon. Some of the varnish had begun to peel, particularly on the north side of the vehicle as it stands now – the adjacent photo illustrates the problem. The Gang rubbling down the saloonA test area was sanded down by Mike, both Pauls and John Davis before Tim applied some gold size, which brought the colour back to the teak. Roger Benbow, John, Paul Newton and Mike continued the task on Friday. The south side of the vehicle isn’t too bad, but will benefit from some more coats of varnish in due time.

John Dixon continued his work in the mess room where he swapped round the hinges on the fridge freezer so they are more convenient for those using the work top to make a cup of tea or coffee. He also assisted Fred on Friday with fitting the cable for the new aerial. Fred then continued on to clean up a fresh buffer for Wootton Hall‘s tender with a wire brush.

Keith was due to go across to Embsay on Sunday to take back the superheater header for 5643 and some replacement firebars for Cumbria. Howard is now working out how to fix up a drill to remove those stubborn spring hanger pins on Caliban.

This next weekend sees the Festival of Steam Gala at Locomotion, Shildon, which will also mark FR 20’s final turns of duty before it returns to Preston on Thursday. Alan, Tim and Alison will be travelling across the Pennines to be with the old engine and a dinner is being planned on Saturday evening by volunteers to mark the occasion of FR 20’s imminent departure. Joining FR 20 for the Gala will be Robert Stephenson and Hawthorne o-40ST No. 7063 Eustace Forth, built in 1942. The locomotive worked as No. 15 at Dunston Power Station.

Finally, following the extended meeting of the Trustees last week, members will be receiving an envelope through the post containing official notification of the AGM date (Tuesday, 26th June at 7.30 pm) together with a letter regarding the steps taken to comply with the General Data Processing Regulation plus the FRT’s Privacy Policy. This  is a subject that is having to be tackled by many other organisations. A form and SAE are enclosed to enable members to give their consent to the Trust maintaining full contact with them after the implementation of the GDPR on the 25th May.


Tuesday 24th April 2018

Mike Rigg drills holes so that the brush strips alongside the TPO doors can be fixedThe RSR’s TPO spent its last week in the FRT’s shed as Mike (above) and Paul (below) fitted the brush strips alongside the sliding doors and John Dixon cleaned the windows and touched up some of the paintwork. Paul Newton screws in a brush strip on the TPO

Finished job with brush strip fixedIt It is planned that the TPO coach will be moved out of the shed today and replaced by the Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5 which will need a little TLC to its upholstery and exterior varnish after being in use at Beamish for eight years. And, of course, there are still some jobs that we never finished off in the first place!

Chris Rycroft and Howard Fletcher line up the jack hammer to try and remove one of Caliban's spring hanger pins. 180418Chris Rycroft and Howard Fletcher are seen here between Caliban‘s frames last Wednesday manoeuvring a jack hammer into position in order to try and remove another of the very stubborn spring hanger pins. One pin was removed on Wednesday but it looks as if it will be necessary to drill out the other pins, which will no doubt take some considerable time and effort.

Laying tarmac outside the FRT shed. 200418Outside the shed, tarmac was laid on Friday in preparation for the creation of the Ribble Steam Railway’s new children’s playground. John and Fred fixing a new aerial above the mess room 200418John and Fred were on the mess room roof in order to fix a new outside aerial, and the completed tarmac and aerial can be seen here. Tarmac laid and aerial fitted 200418Inside the mess room John has fitted a much needed new towel rail.

Keith has taken delivery of two new sheets of steel as he proceeds with the re-building of the top of the tender frames. With the TPO coach finished, Mike reverted to chasing up electrical faults on the FRT’s former RMB and discovered new fuses that didn’t actually contain any fuse wire..!

Cumbria at Embsay on Saturday waiting to depart with the 13.30 to Bolton AbbeyCumbria arrived at Embsay as scheduled last Thursday and was pressed into traffic straight away on Saturday and Sunday. Alan and Tim each went for a footplate ride on the old ‘Red Rocket’ on Saturday and proclaimed that it was good to see it back in action closer to home. Cumbria is seen here at Embsay on Saturday ready to depart with the 13.30 train to Bolton Abbey.

The new tubes for 5643 in the loco shed at Embsay waiting to be fitted by Andy BoothAlso seen here at Embsay are the new small boiler tubes for 5643 which had arrived and are now waiting to be fitted by Andy Booth.

Finally there was a very long meeting of, the Trustees last night, which finished at 11.45 pm, having been on the go since 8 pm. It seems  that the forthcoming challenges of the new General Data Protection Regulation were of rather more interest to everyone than might have been anticipated! Members should expect a letter on the subject in the post over the next week or so.

Monday 16th April 2018

It has been another busy week for us at Preston which has seen the restoration of the RSR’s Travelling Post Office Sorting Vehicle almost complete.

The vinyls being applied by PPSThe people from PPS Graphics from nearby Anchorage Business Park turned up as scheduled on Wednesday morning and, with Tim’s assistance, applied the fantastic graphics to the bodysides of the TPO.

The job took over three hours, but the care given to getting things right was well rewarded in terms of the finished product. Having checked that the yellow stripes painted on the bottom panels were a good match to the graphics, the masking tape was duly removed and the vehicle readied for varnishing on the Friday. Meanwhile, John Dixon and John Davis had been busy painting below the frames, applying the ‘electric orange’ paint to the various electrical cabinets and electric train heat equipment.

The main task on Friday, to varnish the coach both sides from end to end, was completed without incident by John Dixon and Tim whilst John Davis prepared and cleaned the brush strips which will be refitted to the sides of the sliding doors – these were presumably designed to prevent draughts whilst the TPO train was travelling at speed. It is intended to refit these brush strips this next week before the TPO is moved into the RSR’s Museum to become the centrepiece of a feature on Mail by Rail. Varnished and nearly ready to goThe TPO coach is seen here after varnishing had been completed.

Howard has had a frustrating time in trying to remove the spring hanger pins on Caliban, the application of heat by John Stewart the previous Saturday having seemingly had little effect. Alan Ogden appeared on Wednesday to continue his work on Fluff but, in Adrian’s absence, took pity on Howard and lent a hand. Adrian – it looks as if there will still be plenty of work for you to do when you return from your convalescence!

Ian Massey returned on Friday to continue the task of welding the new front steel plates on to Wootton Hall‘s tender frames. A screen was rigged up to prevent sparks from affecting the nearby work on the RMB. (It’s in the background of the picture of the almost-completed TPO van.) The completion of this welding is a key milestone in the project to re-build the tender, so well done to all concerned.

Mike Rigg turned up on Friday with his electrical gear to do some work on the FRT’s former RMB, No. 1812. It appears that the lighting system has been causing some problems, but Mike informs us that things seemed to have improved when he called in to check during the RSR’s Diesel Gala on Saturday.

Cumbria‘s successful stint of over two years at The Battlefield Line concluded this last weekend and the loco is scheduled to be transferred to the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway on Thursday. All being well, it should be in steam there next weekend.

The travails of the FRT’s support vehicles (the campervans) continue as the now 46 years old VW owned by Tim finished up arriving at Morecambe for its MoT and service on the back of an AA truck, having failed during its journey there on the A590 through a fuel pump failure. The good news is that it is now back home and ready for action, although the mackerel tin lid that is held in place over a hole in the exhaust tail pipe by three jubilee clips is still in position as it was deemed by all concerned to be an adequate repair!

Finally, there is a meeting of the Trustees next Monday evening at Alison’s house when the 2017 Accounts and Trustees’ Annual Report will be reviewed followed by a discussion on Mike’s proposed action plan for the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulations. And then there will no doubt be the little matter of making suitable inroads into Alison’s sandwiches before we are allowed to go home!

Monday 9th April 2018

Only a brief update this week following the late publication of last week’s blog.

John Dixon concentrates on applying the yellow undercoatThe paintwork on the RSR’s TPO is almost complete following the working parties on Wednesday and Friday. Ready for the vinylsThe yellow stripes along the lower panels of the body were added as was the orange electrical warning line on the gutter edges. One of Roger's brightly coloured bogiesThe painting of the bogies was completed on Friday with Roger adding the final touches of colour before he disappears on holiday. The vinyls should be added on Wednesday followed by a final coat of varnish on Friday.

Howard has been working alone on Caliban in Adrian’s absence. Ade before the knifeWe are pleased to be able to report that Ade should now be back at home after going under the knife during a four hour operation on Thursday. He tells us that the hospital food was OK but that he couldn’t find the mini-bar! He is still feeling rather sore and reckons that it will be a little while before he will be able to continue his efforts to dismantle Caliban‘s springs.

Keith continues his work on making cylinder covers for Wootton Hall and is expecting Ian Massey back this next Friday and Saturday to do more work on the Hall’s tender frames.

Fred tries to make the TV workFinally, in the mess room, Fred brought in an inside aerial to try out on the TV but was unable to get much of a picture with it. It looks as if we will have to invest in a proper outdoor aerial sometime.


Wednesday 4th April 2018

The blog has been significantly delayed this week by a combination of factors, including the need to crew steam engines and the school holidays which place demands on writing time!

However, work has continued apace at Preston on the RSR’s TPO coach, the cosmetic restoration of which is now well down the home straight. John and Tim have now applied three coats of paint to the body sides and the lining should be finished by the end of this week. The TPO coach ready for lining paintThe photo shows the coach in Royal Mail red masked up ready to receive the yellow stripes along the lower panels. As can be seen from the shining bogies, Fred, Roger and John Davis have also been hard at work down below. It is planned that the vinyl Travelling Post Office lettering will be applied to the body sides next Wednesday, after which a finishing coat of varnish is scheduled for the Friday. It shouldn’t be too long after that before the coach is transferred into the museum.

Howard with a stubborn spring hangerAde and Howard have finally managed to release the first of Caliban‘s spring hangers, where the steel pins are proving to be well and truly seized up. Howard is seen here attempting to remove the second of the spring hangers. Howard is also looking to call in reinforcements as chief dismantler Adrian is due to go under the knife in Preston Royal Infirmary tomorrow so will be on light duties for a while after that. Good luck Ade!

Newly acquired second hand clack valve for Wootton HallKeith continues to be on the look out for components for Wootton Hall and has been fortunate to obtain a second hand clack valve courtesy of Andy Booth. Please see Keith if you would like to contribute to the purchase of this or the two new snifting valve castings which were mentioned in last week’s blog.The new snifting valve castings for Wootton Hall

A new top cylinder cover plate on Wootton HallKeith has also been fabricating two plates to cover the cylinders on Wootton Hall, one of which is seen in position here.

Finally, Alan and Alison braved the cold and wet weather to go over to Locomotion, Shildon, last weekend. Alison raised some more funds whilst Alan looked after FR 20 on its penultimate set of steamings at Locomotion this year. The loco is provisionally due to leave Shildon for Preston on the 9th May.


Monday 26th March 2018

Gothenburg departing with the first train on Saturday, 24th MarchAs mentioned in last week’s blog, the Ribble Steam Railway’s Spring Steam Gala took place on Saturday and Sunday with four locomotives in operation, including visiting Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0T Gothenburg from the East Lancashire Railway which is seen here departing from Riverside station with the first train on Saturday.

Ready to go. The buffet car waiting for its first tripThe Gala marked the introduction into service of the FRT’s former RMB buffet car No. 1812, which was placed in the centre of the three coach rake, and very smart it looked. Draught beer has been re-installed to the bar and Brent is seen here drawing off the first drink of the day.Brent draws the first drink of the day

The FRT’s sales stand at the Gala was augmented by the rolling stock from the late John Houghton’s railway layout, which the FRT is selling and will benefit from the proceeds. Alan sorting out the locos for sale

The overhaul of the RSR’s TPO coach bodywork is now reaching its final stages and a coat of red undercoat was applied on Friday. John painting the TPO coach on SaturdayJohn Dixon is pictured here in the process of applying gloss paint on Saturday and it is planned to put on another gloss coat on Wednesday, so a dust curfew is required in the shed for that day. John Davis, Fred and Roger have been continuing their task of painting the frames and bogies and are nearly at an end with this part of the project. Paul Balshaw has been attending to the missing rubbing plates on one of the corridor connections.

Howard and Adrian have continued the task of dismantling the spring hangers and supporting pins from Caliban, it being a slow process as split pins are removed piece by piece!

Keith has picked up two brand new brass snifting valve castings from a foundry in Blackburn for Wootton Hall, and is looking for sponsors of these – they cost 84 each.

We have had news that the new tubes for 5643 are currently being cut and swaged in readiness for transporting to Embsay at the end of the week. Andy Booth is programming in some time shortly after Easter to fit them.

Finally, Alan and Alison are off to Locomotion at Shildon again this next weekend for FR 20’s Easter steamings, although Alison will be at Preston on Good Friday with some of the unsold OO gauge model rolling stock whilst Alan is driving. We hope that the forecast ‘mini-beast from the east’ (wot, another one?!) won’t cause the A66 to be closed once again!

Monday 19th March 2018

It might have been yet another cold wind blowing outside our shed this week, however, within the relatively snugness of a well insulated and heated environment we have seen more progress this week on the three main projects.

John Dixon painting the corridor end of the TPO coachWork has now commenced in earnest on the painting of the RSR’s TPO coach, and John Dixon is seen here painting the corridor ends. The corridor ends going blackNow that this has been achieved, it is planned to start painting the body sides next Friday. Paul Newton and John Davis at work painting the TPO coachDown below, John Davis, Paul Newton, Fred and Roger have been continuing their work in painting the frames, headstocks and bogies. Fred painting one of the TPO headstocksRoger sees red with bogie springsPaul Balshaw also made a start on cleaning up the interior of the coach now that the filling and sanding has finished.

Alan and Howard at work on Caliban's axleboxesAde, Howard and Alan have been stripping the axleboxes on Caliban, although this has been a slow process as it is many years since they have been apart. Ade contemplating under Caliban

Ian Massey was back on Friday to continue his work on welding a new section to Wootton Hall‘s tender frames. Ian Massey at work on Wootton Hall's tender framesIt is planned that he will return again shortly to complete the job. The latest weld completedThe work is taking a little longer than anticipated owing to some distortion that occurred during the original welding and the need to adopt a different technique to prevent a recurrence.

The mess room is becoming better equipped as a result of the clearing of the late John Houghton’s kitchen, the contents of which have been made available to the Trust. Derek has kindly donated some pictures which are starting to go up on the walls.

Next weekend, the 24th and 25th March, will see the rolling stock from John Houghton’s model railway being put up for sale. A reminder here that FRT members will be allowed first pick from 09.00 on the Saturday morning. Videos, books and vinyls for saleA large selection of books, videos and vinyl LPs, seen here stacked in the mess room, will also be available for sale.

Groundworks outside the shedOutside our shed, work has started on preparing the ground ready for tarmac to be put down, probably this next week. This is in advance of the new children’s play area which will be created between the FRT shed and the museum.

FR 20 in the snow at ShildonAlan looked at the weather forecast and decided to delegate the role of owner’s representative for FR 20 at this weekend’s steamings at Locomotion to member Brian Goodfellow, who lives locally to Shildon. After a cold night at ShildonThis was a sensible decision as Alan was due to play at a St. Patrick’s Day gig with our folk band Live Steam at Cark on Saturday evening and, in the event, the local mountain rescue teams had to turn out to rescue people from the A66 on Saturday night!

Monday 12th March 2018

Breaking news this week is that the mess room has now been commissioned, the keynote moment being the transfer last Wednesday morning of the kettle and tea bags from the shed into our new accommodation for members. Keith had wired up the hot water system so John Dixon and Tim then set about re-arranging the tables, chairs, desk and filing cabinet into their new positions, setting up the oven and microwave, as well as selecting those tables which could go into store for use with the sales stand. With the permission of the executor of the late John Houghton’s estate, the FRT has been allowed to clear some household items from Garstang and some cooking pans and a camp bed have been installed in the mess room. These will be followed this next week by cups, plates and cutlery as well as the store of tinned food from John’s cupboards. We are setting up a mess room fund into which donations can be made for tea bags, coffee, milk and the food.

Back to the work place, there has been a continuing push to get the RSR’s TPO coach ready for painting, with Tim John, Dixon, John Davis, Paul Balshaw, Paul Newton, Mike, Fred and Roger all lending a hand. It is hoped to start painting the corridor ends this week before the rather larger task of painting the sides begins. The role of supervisor is obviously very pressured!Mike can be seen here offering suitable supervisory advice to John Davis from the comfort of his chair as John paints a bogie.

Ade and Howard have been making steady progress with Caliban, managing to remove all the pins which were holding the axlebox keeps in place.

Keith has also been making some progress with Wootton Hall and Wednesday saw the arrival of a new clack valve.. New clack valve for Wootton Halland an eccentric rod… Second hand eccentric rod for Wootton HallKeith is asking for expressions of interest to sponsor these items – the clack valve is £400 and the eccentric rod £375 .

With the roads almost clear of snow, Alan and Tim finally made it over to the north east for a meeting on Friday. Alan and Alison have been spending all their spare time this week at John Houghton’s house sorting out his possessions. The items from the train set are being catalogued and Alison is planning to have a sale of the rolling stock during the Ribble Steam Railway’s Steam Gala. A special preview session for FRT members will be held from 09.00 on Saturday, 24th March after which the sale will be open to members of the public. With a bit of luck, it is hoped to have a list of the main items available in time for next week’s blog.

Finally, this next weekend sees Alan and Alison heading over to Shildon for two more steamings with FR 20, with them beating a hasty return to Cark on the Saturday evening for a St. Patrick’s night gig at the Engine Inn with Live Steam.