Monday 26th February 2024

We are very sorry to have to start this week’s blog with the very sad news that Fred Jones, a long-time member of the Trust and regular volunteer at Preston, passed away peacefully in Lancaster Royal infirmary last night. As readers of this blog will be aware, Fred suffered a medical problem recently and we were all hoping that we would see him back again at Preston in the not-too-distant future. However, Fred was taken into Lancaster Royal Infirmary last week for tests after continuing to feel unwell.

Fred Jones about to start with a new wire brushFred loved railways and thoroughly enjoyed working both at Haverthwaite and at Preston, taking on board the many less glamourous jobs, particularly  of cleaning and painting components. He is pictured above after having worn out yet another cup wire brush. He will be very much missed by us all. Our thoughts are with daughter, Helen, son Andrew and family.

Ian Massey making the sparks flyWork on the overhaul of 5643 has continued this last week with Ian Massey paying us another visit on Wednesday when he completed his work on the tubeplate of 5643’s boiler. Ian is seen making sparks fly as he grinds off excess weld.

Keith and Jimmy with 5643's front right axleboxJimmy Dutton has re-metalled 5643’s front right axlebox and is seen here with Keith ready for the axlebox to be machined.

Dave Reynolds inspects wear on 5643's radial horn guidesElsewhere on 5643, Dave Reynolds has been inspecting the radial horn guides for wear.

The new baffle for GER No. 5's water boilerJohn Dixon has produced a baffle for the hot water boiler in the kitchen of Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5 to prevent scalding hot water overtopping the urn. The coach is due to be in service for Mother’s Day so a number of winter jobs are now being completed for the occasion.

Tim finding some more imperfections on Wootton Hall's tenderFollowing last week’s photo of the first coat of green undercoat on the left-hand tender side of Great Western Railway ‘Hall’ class 4-6-0 No. 4979 Wootton Hall, Tim has been inspecting the surface closely to identify and fill any imperfections.

John Davies cleans the copper cap to Fluff's chimneyJohn Davies has been cleaning the copper cap for Fluff’s chimney.

Finally, there was concern this last week when we were unable to contact former Treasurer and Trustee David Rimmer. However, David has now been in touch to say that he has been in hospital. We wish David a speedy recovery.

Monday 19th February 2024

Things are getting back to normal now we hope with a more consistent publication of the blog following illness.

John Dixon applying grey undercoat paint to 5643's spring hanger boltsWork has continued on the overhaul of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643. John Dixon has been giving the spring hanger bolts a good clean and several coats of paint.

Sim and Jon Dixon applying high temperature black paint to 5643 steam chest and smokebox saddleSim (left) and Jon Dixon are seen here giving the exterior of the steam chest and smokebox saddle a coat of high temperature black paint.

Wootton Hall's chimney castingWe now have a first blog photo of the new chimney casting for Great Western Railway ‘Hall’ class 4-6-0 No. 4979 that was recently supplied by the Severn Valley Railway. The casting will need to be machined and the familiar GWR copper top fitted.

Wootton Hall's tender has received its first coat of undercoat greenMeanwhile Tim, after much filling and sanding, has been giving the left-hand side of Wootton Hall’s tender tank a coat of green undercoat paint. There is still more work to do though before the former ’ploughed field’ surface is ready to receive a top coat of paint.

Phil Burton giving one of the picture frames a polishWork on Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5 continues with Phil Burton cleaning up the two bronze royal picture frames that will be fitted to the coach.

Half done, the top and left hand side of the picture frame can be seen gleaming.The top and left-hand side of the frame can be seen gleaming here.

John Dixon sampling some of the birthday cake on offerFinally, it has been a bumper week for cake in the mess room this week with both Keith and Alan celebrating birthdays. John Dixon is seen here tucking in to a portion of cake…

Alan enjoying some of his birthday cake… while Alan had a small birthday celebration at Preston on Saturday and is seen here with some of his own cake.

Monday 12th February 2024

Apologies once again for the inconsistent publication of the blog. We are hoping that the effects of the winter ailments are now mainly behind us!

First of all this week, a big thanks to all those of you who have made such generous donations to the Trust whilst renewing membership over the past couple of months. With so much potentially expensive work going on at the moment it is really very heartening to have such support from members. It is very much appreciated.

The overhaul of 5643 has continued apace with the coded welder Ian Massey paying a visit last Wednesday to commence work on 5643’s boiler, focussing on some wastage at the bottom of the front tubeplate. A further two visits are expected in the coming weeks to finish the tasks requested by the boiler surveyor.

Ron Crowe drills out one of the firebox staysRon Crowe is pictured here drilling out one of the firebox backplate stays, one of 300 stays to be renewed.

The newly purchased die chasersA set of special die chasers has been purchased for the purpose of manufacturing new stays.

Jon Dixon cleans 5643's smokebox saddleWork has also continued on cleaning and painting the frames and attachments with Jon Dixon seen here cleaning the bottom of the smokebox saddle prior to painting with high temperature paint.

Refurbished 'J' cock for 5643Finally, Keith has picked up from one of our machinists the refurbished ‘J’ cock, one of 5643’s cab fittings, the original body for which having been unfortunately damaged during the process of dismantling.

Monday 29th January 2024

Apologies for the lack of a blog over the past couple of weeks. Unfortunately, a member of the blog team has been knocked by an extended Christmas lurgy that seems to be doing the rounds. However, we are pleased to be able to report that others have escaped illness and that work has continued apace at Preston over the past few weeks.

Phil Bell working on 5643's fireboxAs ever, most of the resources have been devoted to the continuing overhaul of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643. Phil Bell and John Davis have been grinding down the exterior heads of the stays that need to be renewed on the boiler and Keith has been in the firebox to attack the stays from that direction. The result is that Ron Crowe has now drilled out and removed the first stay with many still to come!

Ed Tatham working inside 5643's framesOther members have been busy continuing the work of cleaning and painting the frames, including Ed…

Jon Dixon painting one of 5643's wheels… while Jon Dixon has been wielding the paintbrush on the wheels.

Another step forward with the overhaul of 5643 has been the white metalling of the front right hand brass by Keith and Jimmy Dutton, which has now been located in the axlebox ready for machining

Chair being re-upholstered for GER No. 5Anne and Phil Burton have continued their work on the chairs from Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5, a photo here showing one of the chairs reupholstered in horse chestnut leaf moquette as an example of how they would look with this pattern.

Whilst most of the recent attention has been concentrated on 5643, we are pleased to be able to report that the purchase of a second coupling rod for Great Western Railway ‘Hall’ class 4-6-0 locomotive No. 4979 Wootton Hall has been concluded and also that a brand new chimney arrived last Monday, having been supplied by the Severn Valley Railway.

Newly arrived Peckett 0-4-0ST No. 2103 of 1950Finally, elsewhere at the Ribble Steam Railway site, Peckett 0-4-0ST No. 2013 of 1950 has arrived, having been purchased by Furness Railway Trust member Jimmy Dutton, who also owns Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0ST Linda.

Monday 8th January 2024

A belated Happy New Year to all our readers!

We are pleased to be able to report that progress has continued on projects over the Christmas and New Year period, even though some of our volunteers have been struck down by the Christmas lurgy.

5643's frames being cleaned and repaintedThe cleaning and repainting of the main frames of 5643 has continued, assisted by the frames being jacked up to release the radial truck wheels which are now ready for despatch for reprofiling of the tyres.

The new drawers for GER No. 5 being stained and varnishedPhil Bell has been producing replacement drawers for Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5, the wood for which has been stained and received its first coat of varnish.

John Davis refitting Fluff's brake blocksPhil and John Davis have also been re-assembling Fluff’s brake hangers and brake blocks.

Members should now have received their copy of the latest edition of The Iron Horse, although some are in the mess room for collection by regular working members. The facility for online payment for subscriptions has made a good start and the receipt of a number donations towards the Trust’s projects is very heartening. Thanks to you all.

Live Steam in action on New Year's EveFinally, our folk group, Live Steam, made its annual New Year’s Eve appearance at the Engine Inn, Cark-in-Cartmel with George coming up from Derby to assist Alan, Tim and Pete. Despite Pete and Tim being under the weather, the evening seemed to go down well with the audience and a useful addition to funds was earned.

Monday 18th December 2023

Keith looks on as Adam Wright inspects 5643's boilerOur boiler surveyor, Adam Wright, visited the FRT shed at Preston on Friday to inspect the boilers of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643 and Peckett 0-4-0ST Caliban. There was good news and bad news with the verdict on 5643 being pretty positive. It had already been planned to renew the 5/8” boiler stays, which was agreed with Adam along with some protective surface welding of the front tubeplate and a few sections of the boiler barrel. Adam is seen above inspecting the interior of the firebox through one of the large mudholes.

Unfortunately, the platework on Caliban’s inner firebox was deemed to be too thin to allow a ten year boiler certificate to be issued and the options for a new inner firebox will now be investigated.

Fortunately, this news didn’t spoil the FRT’s annual Christmas dinner that evening at the Ribble Pilot pub alongside Preston’s Dock. Our thanks go to Alison for organising it.

John Dixon paints one of the suction hose hangersElsewhere, John Dixon has been catching up with a couple of jobs. Firstly, he has been preparing some steel hangers for the fire pump suction pipes, which should help to keep them safe and away from potential damage.

John Dixon attending to heat damage on FR20's wooden boxSecondly, John has been attending to the wooden box which sits on FR 20’s running plate alongside the right hand smokebox. The box had sustained some heat damage whilst the locomotive was running up the steep gradients at Blaenavon, which is now being rectified. For similar reasons, Tim has now completed the re-painting of the smokebox door and the right hand side of the smokebox.

Sam cleaning the inside of one of 5643's wheels.The lifting of 5643’s frames has allowed access for cleaning the back of the wheels. Sam is seen here busy cleaning one of the wheels.

Alan is wheeled away from one of the Santa Specials by AlisonTim and Alan had hoped for some relief from the playing of Christmas songs on the RSR’s Santa Specials through the offer of help from Graham and Bernadette Dixon. Unfortunately, both Graham and Bernadette both went down with ‘flu after the second weekend and so Tim and Alan had to complete the final weekend on their own. Alan is seen here being wheeled away for recovery by Alison after performing on the second train on Sunday.

Sam on top of Courageous's' cab after the last train on Sunday, 17th DecemberFinally, Sam (pictured right) had his first firing turn on a Santa Special and is seen here with the rest of the crew waiting for a group photo to be taken.

With both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day taking place on Mondays, it has been decided to continue with the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday format for working parties over the Christmas and New Year period – so no let up there!

We leave you this week with very best wishes to all our readers for a great Christmas and New Year. (No, there won’t be a blog next Monday!!) A reminder here that, folk group Live Steam will be playing at the Engine Inn, Cark-in-Cartmel, on New Year’s Eve.

Tuesday 12th December 2023

As we head towards the end of yet another year, members at Preston have
continued to catch up with a number of jobs, mainly on the small side this

AW & Co clearly marked on 5643's radial truckThe cast frame for Great Western Railway 0-6-2T 5643’s radial truck
has been cleaned and painted. Both axleboxes are marked with 66XX
numbers whilst the casting was clearly manufactured by Armstrong
Whitworth of Newcastle upon Tyne, who built the last 50 of the 56/66XX
classes, 6650 to 6699.

Phil Burton sanding a donated chairThe Trust has been donated a number of chairs for Great Eastern Railway
royal saloon No. 5 which Phil Burton has been sanding down.

This next Friday is an important date in the calendar as our boiler surveyor is
coming to Preston at 8am to inspect the boilers of 5643 and Peckett 0-4-0ST
Caliban. There will be discussions as to the extent of the work required during
the overhaul of each of the boilers. 15 members are then due to sit down that evening for the annual FRT Christmas dinner.

Talking of Christmas, the Ribble Steam Railway’s Santa Specials have been
running fully booked and a further five trains are due to operate next Saturday
and Sunday. Alan and Tim, who have previously provided all the Christmas
music on board the trains, have this year been joined by Graham and
Bernadette Dixon, which has lightened the load considerably.

Monday 4th December 2023

Spotless axlebox and keepIt has been another week of steady progress with the overhaul of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643. There has been some fastidious cleaning of components taking place as can be seen by this photo of one of the axlebox bearings and keep.

Fred cleaning 5643's radial wheelsFred has been concentrating on cleaning the radial wheels before they are sent away for re-profiling.

Finally, as we head towards the close of the year, Alan Middleton has been putting the final touches to the next edition of The Iron Horse, which is now with our printer. All being well this should be out before Christmas.

Monday 27th November 2023

Ed Tatham jacks up the rear of 5643's frames on Wednesday, 22nd NovemberThere was some good progress on the overhaul of GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643 this week. Ed Tatham is seen here jacking up the rear of the frames on Wednesday so that the radial wheels could be released.

John Dixon with the released wheelsOnce the wheels had been released the chassis was then partially lowered.

Keith Brewer and Sam Middleton working to dismantle the radial truckKeith and Sam worked on Saturday to dismantle the radial truck so that the wheels can be sent away to be re-profiled.

5643's boiler after the NDT with dye penetrant visibleFriday saw a short notice visit from Jim Kennedy and son to undertake a non-destructive test on 5643’s boiler. The white dye penetrant that was used can clearly be seen. We are pleased to report that the initial results were positive, but we await a visit from the boiler surveyor to confirm the extent of work required on the boiler during its ten-year overhaul.

Alan Middleton with the gift wrapped replacement engine for FluffWednesday saw the arrival of a gift wrapped package that was delivered from Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Inside was a four cylinder Perkins diesel engine with twin disc torque converter for Fowler 0-4-0DM Fluff, which had become surplus to requirements at the Pleasure Beach but which should give new life to Fluff. The FRT is extremely grateful to Blackpool Pleasure Beach for helping out the Trust in this way.

FR 20's smokebox door being readied for re-paintingFinally, Tim has set about beautifying Furness Railway No. 20’s smokebox after the lower paintwork had been burnt away during the locomotive’s climbs up the steep gradients at Blaenavon’s Heritage Railway this summer.

Monday 20th November 2023

Just a very short blog this week.

There is still plenty of work going on in the FRT shed at Preston, notably the rise on jacks of 5643’s frames which will eventually allow the release of the radial wheels for re-profiling.

The first Santa Specials are being run at the Ribble Steam Railway this next Saturday for a large party of Brownies so Alan and Tim will be reprising their renditions of Jingle Bells etc this coming week.

Most importantly, we can know let everyone know that the Furness Railway Trust’s annual Christmas Dinner will be held on Friday, 15th December!