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.

Monday 19th October 2020

The welcome news that FR 20 had passed its hydraulic test has turned thoughts as to the practicalities of conducting a steam test out of the frames. It is hoped that the boiler will be shunted around to the RSR running shed sometime this week in exchange for a brake van. Ade with the 4WD fork liftThis is all subject to the availability of Ade who is assisting Ribble Rail this week. Ade is pictured here trying his hand last week with the RSR’s recently acquired four wheel drive fork truck.

John re-fitting FR 20's smokebox lamp bracketWork has continued on some of the smaller jobs on FR 20. Tim has finished painting the modified spring hangers and has also done some careful refurbishment and priming of the tender buffer beam so as to retain appropriate signs of age and work use.  John Dixon has straightened up the smokebox lamp bracket.

John painting the bottom of FR 20's ashpanJohn then set about giving the bottom of the ashpan a much-needed clean and paint.

Keith cutting yet more metal from Wootton Hall's tender tankKeith has taken advantage of some better weather to cut some more metal from Wootton Hall‘s tender tank.

Phil Bell and John Davis painting more new steelwork for FluffPaul Balshaw has continued buffing up 5643’s rods whilst Phil and John Davis have been busy painting new steelwork for Fluff.

Paul Newton painting the bench seat slatsFinally, Paul Newton has at last managed to put some gloss paint on the slats for the formerly derelict platform seat.

Monday 12th October 2020

Keith grinding his ringThe cleaning work inside and outside the frames of 5643 has been completed which has allowed work to focus on the valves and pistons. Both pistons have now been split from their respective crossheads and examined by Keith who determined that new piston rings were required. Keith is seen here dressing off one of the rings prior to fitting.

George at work on 5643The heavy work involved in releasing and re-installing the pistons required additional assistance which was provided by George, who came up from Derby on two occasions over the past couple of weeks, however, both pistons are now back in place and connected to the crossheads.

Fred and John clean up after another of Fred's wire brushing sessionsWork on cleaning up and repainting the cab floor steelwork continues which is Fred’s forte. Fred and John Dixon are seen cleaning up outside the shed on Friday after Fred’s latest work which saw off yet another cup wire brush.

Phil Bell and John Davis with more steelwork for FluffThe end of the main thrust of cleaning on 5643 has enabled Phil, John Davis and Paul to return to the overhaul of Fluff. Phil and John are seen here with yet another new sheet of steel.

Ed and his spruced up gardenWe were pleased to see the return of Ed after a short spell in works. He spent a very busy day tidying up the garden area and cutting back undergrowth that was coming through the adjacent fence.

The remainder of the volunteer workforce has generally been engaged on progressing the overhaul of FR 20. We are very pleased to be able to inform you that the boiler passed its hydraulic test today, so well done to all concerned. However, the current procedures now require that the boiler is steam tested out of the frames so that will be the next milestone to achieve.

Alan preparing a new joint ringMeanwhile, Alan has cut two new joint rings for the cylinder covers which have been carefully fitted.Fitting the new ring

Alan and Ade attempting to re-fit the LH cylinder cover on FR 20Alan and Ade then spent most of last Wednesday struggling to fit the left hand cylinder cover, finally succeeding after discovering that one of the studs hadn’t been properly screwed in and was not square with the rest.

The new springs fitted to FR 20We are pleased to report that, after much fine tuning, the new springs are now in place.

John Dixon warming up the bulgeThe annoying slight bulge towards the front of the right hand valance has been removed with the aid of some carefully applied heat and the use of a clamp to straighten the metal.

John Dixon painting FR 20's ashpanFinally, the ashpan has been cleaned, painted and the ejector ring repaired and re-fitted by John Dixon.

Ade playing with his nutsFinally, Ade has also spent some time freeing off and adjusting the nuts on Caliban‘s brake rods. Incidentally, contrary to what you might think from the photo, we can confirm that Ade has now had his post lockdown haircut!

Monday 28th September 2020

Keith measures one of 5643's valvesThe maintenance work on 5643 has continued with the valves now removed for cleaning. Keith has been measuring them to ensure that they are still a good fit with the valve liners.

Phil Bell reaching into the voids that are 5643's motionElsewhere the less glamorous work of cleaning has made more headway with Phil Bell trying to get to the far distant parts in the motion.

John Davis cleaning 5643John Davis also found himself doing some cleaning, probably wishing he hadn’t chosen to wear such a light-coloured T shirt!

Keith and Phil Bell preparing to cut new steel for FluffWhilst Fluff has temporarily been banished to the unheated part of the FRT shed during 5643’s stay, the little diesel hasn’t been forgotten and Keith and Phil are seen preparing to cut a new piece of steel to replace this old rather moth-eaten relic.

John Dixon cleaning up FR 20's ashpanThe weather last Friday was pretty good so John Dixon took the opportunity to clean out FR 20’s ashpan prior to giving it a new coat of paint.

Fred cleaning paint from Fr 20's right hand valanceFred came in on Friday again wielding his trusty angle grinder with cup wire brush. This time he joined Tim in removing old brittle paint from FR 20’s right hand valance.

Ade, Keith and Tim had the chance on Saturday to reacquaint themselves with the controls of steam locomotive Courageous as the Ribble Steam Railway ran some proving trains which were also used to recertify train crew in anticipation of operating some train services in October. The day also saw the introduction of temperature testing of volunteers in order to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19. There was general approval of this initiative by FRT volunteers last Friday and so the FRT has acquired a similar testing device which will be brought into use this week.

Monday 21st September 2020

Ade getting up pressure on FR 20's boilerAlan and Ade conducted a further hydraulic test on FR 20’s boiler on Wednesday after successfully making a new dome cover joint last week and Ade can be seen here working up some pressure. A formal test for the boiler surveyor has been booked for the 12th October.

John Dixon with his die nutJohn Dixon finished finding or making the new studs for FR 20’s steam and blast pipes and had them fitted on Wednesday. He is seen here applying a die nut to one of the studs.

Matthew and John Dixon fit one of FR 20's new springsFriday saw young Matthew join the gang having started a fabrication and welding course at college. He was quickly put to good use operating the hoist to lift one of the new engine springs into position for another test fit.

Keith removes a valve cover on 5643Keith has removed 5643’s valve and cylinder covers as he starts the valve and piston examination.5643's valves and pistons exposed

Fred painting some of 5643's cab floor metalworkFinally, Fred was with us on Friday to continue his work cleaning up and painting the cab floor metalwork.

Monday 14th September 2020

First of all we can report that the Annual General Meeting successfully took place last Tuesday evening with the participants able to attend from the comfort of their homes using Zoom technology. The essential business was conducted without fuss in a record time of 20 minutes and the draft minutes produced before bedtime! Thanks go to all of you who attended.

Ade and Alan preparing a new dome cover jointAlan and Ade removed the dome cover from FR 20’s boiler with the assistance of Ribble Rail staff and the hi-ab. They then prepared a new joint before the dome cover was replaced and fastened down.

John Dixon drilling out steam pipe studsJohn Dixon continued and completed his work drilling out wasted or broken studs which secure the blastpipe and main steam pipe.

Caliban's valve spindlesAlan had picked up Caliban‘s valve spindles from IRS Surfacing Technologies at Burscough. They had been metal sprayed to counter corrosion and then ground back to size. From the finished job they looked brand new.

Paul Balshaw cleaning 5643's rodsThere has been more attention given to 5643 with Paul Balshaw cleaning up the rods.

Phil Bell cleaning below 5643's cab floorPhil Bell focussed his attention beneath the cab floor, which has been removed to allow access.

Fred cleaning up 5643's cab floor steelworkFred came in on Friday to clean up some of the cab floor steelwork

John Dixon with yet another job to completeKeith has given John Dixon the job of refurbishing a second-hand GWR cab seat and then creating another for Wootton Hall.

Spaced out at lunch Lunchtimes these days are a little strange with members spacing themselves out either in the mess room or the shed. Here we see John Davis, Paul Newton and Phil Bell suitably socially distanced (no, we didn’t say spaced out!).

Monday 7th September 2020

Another couple of weeks of steady progress at Preston to report.

Alan attending to FR 20's front endThe steam chest cover and tail rod bushes for the valve spindles have been re-fitted to FR 20, with Alan seen here at work on the matter.

All the spring hangers have now been machined and painted prior to fitting along with the new springs. The tender spectacle plate has also received a new coat of paint.

John Dixon applying heat to one of FR 20's blast pipe studsA number of steam pipe and blast pipe studs need to be replaced either through wastage or breakage. John Dixon tried to remove one of the blast pipe studs using some heat.

John Dixon resorting to drilling out a blast pipe stud on FR 20Unfortunately, the heat treatment failed to make any difference so John is seen here (successfully) drilling out one of the broken studs.

Ade drilling out one of Caliban's smokebox rivetsThe magnetic drill was much in demand last Wednesday when Ade also took the opportunity to start drilling out smokebox rivets on Caliban‘s boiler.

Keith cleaning 5643's framesThere has been further cleaning of 5643’s motion and frames.

5643's main brake shaft5643’s main brake shaft was removed by team Bell and Davis with a little help from Keith and the lifting table. It is a sizeable chunk of metal that has to be respected!

Keith shaping one of Wootton Hall's injector delivery pipesContinuing Great Western news, Keith has been spending more time shaping the new injector delivery pipework for Wootton Hall.

A final reminder to members that the virtual AGM is scheduled for tomorrow evening (Tuesday, 8th September) with signing in commencing at 19.15 for a 19.30 start. We still hope to see or hear from as many members as possible.

Friday 28th August 2020

A day or four late this week due to other distractions, so apologies for the delay.

Keith dismantling brake gear on 5643Work on 5643 has continued at Preston with Keith dismantling more brake gear under a much cleaner locomotive after all the recent work between the frames.

Phil Bell further dismantling the brake gearPhil has then been further dismantling items and cleaning them.

John Davis and Fred Jones socially distancing whilst cleaning 5643Fred and John Davis had another cleaning session on the right hand frames on Friday and are seen here dutifully observing the yellow distancing markers on the floor.

John Dixon repairing studs on FR 20Work has also continued on FR 20 where the removal of all the spring hangers for machining has allowed further cleaning and painting of the frames to take place. John Dixon is seen in a most inelegant pose repairing the blastpipe retaining studs – we suspect he won’t be thanking the photographer!

Time also to reflect on other work that has been going on in recent times.

One of FR 20's lamp bracket convertersJohn appeared after the Covid lockdown with some homework, a couple of lamp bracket converters for FR 20 for such things as DO NOT MOVE signs.

The firebox cladding starting to go onto Wootton Hall Keith has fitted the first piece of firebox cladding on Wootton Hall, carefully allowing for the attachment of the four cone ejector.

A rejuvenated gardenFinally, Ed appeared the previous Wednesday and did a splendid job in putting the nearby garden to rights after it had suffered some lockdown dereliction.

Working parties at Preston continue on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Monday 17th August 2020

Work has continued in the FRT shed at Preston where the excellent insulation has provided some respite against the very un-British heat that we have been experiencing in recent weeks.

John Dixon positions a new spring on FR 20The new springs for FR 20 are still in the course of being fitted, with John Dixon seen here positioning one on to the frames. Further examination of the spring hangers suggested that there has been a small long standing mis-alignment between the spring hangers and the centre pins which support the springs. All the spring hangers have now been removed to enable them to be machined and, hopefully, a perfect fit obtained.

Adrian has been refilling FR 20’s boiler ready for a hydraulic test and Alan has been following up any signs of a dribble.

John Davis feeds a water pipe into the cab of 56435643 was moved on to the pit outside the RSR running shed on the 7th August which enabled the ashpan to be given a thorough clean. John Davis is seen at the bottom of the cab steps feeding a hose pipe into the cab.

Keith with grubby armsKeith’s arms look suitably grubby after the ashpan cleaning.

Phil Bell ready to power wash the framesOnce this had been done, Phil went underneath to undertake some pressure washing between the frames.

Keith making a new cab step plate for 5643Last Wednesday Keith was in the process of replacing the heavily corroded driver’s side cab step plate.

New cab window frame on Wootton HallWootton Hall is now sporting a brand new right hand brass cab window frame which has recently been cast.

Monday 3rd August 2020

We are definitely getting back into the swing of things at Preston after the enforced lay off.

Springing into action (just as well we aren't paid to write this..)Ade fetched around the new engine springs for FR 20 from the RSR’s plant room where they had been in store since delivery during lockdown. Ade caught Tim ‘springing’ into action with a sack truck.

Ade manoeuvring the new springAfter which Ade lifted one of the new springs into position for a test fit.

As ever with new things, a small tweak was required to the new springs to obtain a snug fit within the spring hangers. Some ‘machining’ with an angle grinder subsequently took place. It is hoped to be able to progress the fitting of the new springs further this next week.

John Dixon with refurbed brake pipe for FR 20's tenderElsewhere on FR 20, John has been upgrading some of the tender brake pipework.

Phil Bell cleaning beneath 5643Work has also continued with the cleaning of 5643 and Phil is seen here working in the pit.

Keith surveying the underneath of 5643Keith is also seen here surveying 5643 for future work from the pit.

Fred appeared on Friday and decided to try out the safety wire system that was installed last year. Fred with safety wire harnessHe is seen here awaiting final adjustment to his harness….

Fred atop 5643 cleaning the chimney… and then atop 5643 cleaning its chimney.

Refurbished seating in the RSR TSOOver in the running shed some of the FRT’s team  have been installing refurbished seating on the RSR’s TSO no. 5036 and doing a very good job by the looks of it.

Finally, if members are wondering where the copy of the promised latest edition of The Iron Horse magazine is, there was a delay at the printers due to a reduced pandemic staffing level. The magazines have now been received and should be on their way!