Monday 24th April 2017

There is plenty of action from this last week to report.

Ring Haw and 5643 double head the 17.43 from Sheringham to Holt on 22nd September 2017

5643 at Sheringham on Saturday 22nd April 2017,5643 duly arrived at Sheringham on the North Norfolk Railway last Wednesday in readiness to take part in the North Norfolk Railway’s Spring Steam Gala on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. George travelled down to Norfolk on Friday afternoon and was at Weybourne shed at 05.30 on Saturday to assist the crew in the preparation of the locomotive. We’re not sure that Keith was overly impressed to receive a phone call from George at 06.30 to discuss the finer points of the lubricator, but the advice given was no doubt appreciated! Unfortunately, George was also back at Weybourne shed at midnight to assist with the fitting of a replacement spring on the left hand rear driving wheel – just to prove that these trips out with a loco aren’t always jollies! Fortunately, having previously had 5619 on long term loan, it didn’t take too long for the fitting staff to put in the new spring – George was impressed with the lifting table which made the job much easier. Thanks go to George for taking the time out to go to Norfolk for us, and for these photos including the double-header with Ring Haw.

Alan and Alison have been up to Locomotion, Shildon again (yes, the campervan is back on the road after extensive repairs), where FR 20 was scheduled to be in steam over the two days. The Saturday steaming was mainly for a private birthday party in the afternoon, which was just as well as a problem with the right hand steam injector valve in the morning (shall we just say that it was being closed rather too enthusiastically) caused the steam pressure to have to be blown down so that the valve could be replaced. However, all was well in good time for the birthday party. Alan and Alison are back at Shildon this next weekend for the Spring Gala there when FR 20 will be joined by Beatrice from Embsay on the demonstration line on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

To complete coverage of our three operational locomotives, Cumbria passed its steam test last Thursday and is scheduled to be in steam at The Battlefield Line this next weekend once the big ends have been reassembled after winter maintenance work.

Back now to home depot, Preston, where work on the RMB has continued, chasing up the remaining jobs to complete the overhaul. Tim has now completed the paintwork at the east end of the coach and Mike has just about finished the re-instillation of the toilet fittings. He mutters that at least mostly he’s been able to sit down on the job! David has undertaken more clearance work inside and the coach is beginning to look more like its old self. The next major task will be re-fitting the melamine panelling and cupboards in the servery area. John has had a week off for good behaviour so will no doubt be raring to tackle some of these jobs when he re-joins the gang this week! Discussing strategyPaul has been busy cleaning down the new (to us) paint cabinet (which apparently needed discussion with Mike) and has made up a frame from which a mould for the new gas compartment door plate can be cast with the consumables purchased last week.The mould frame

Following the discovery of some unwelcome visitors to the CCT store outside, David, Tim, Matthew and Martin Clarke spent time on Saturday moving some of the more useful items to the new internal store in the first class North London Railway coach body.

Keith cutting up Wootton HallKeith has been busy again with the gas torch removing components from the front of Wootton Hall for refurbishment. Fred cleaning up one of Wootton Hall's buffersRoger with a buffer springFred and Roger arrived late on Friday, having been delayed by yet another dead Class 37 on the Furness Line, to clean up the front buffers, including the springs which can be seen here.

Anthony Jolly appeared on Wednesday to do some more work on Fluff, to be followed by Alan Ogden on Saturday, who is refurbishing the electrical boxes.

Finally, Adrian has been making even more dust and noise in cleaning Caliban‘s frames and the sand boxes have been removed. Now how do we unseize the sanding gear?The sanding mechanism was found to have rusted up, and Howard took on the job of unseizing it through the age old remedy of hitting it with a hammer – with success.The age old remedy for seized metal

Monday 17th April 2017

Breaking news this week is that 5643 is heading off from Embsay down to Norfolk as a late substitute in the line up for the North Norfolk Railway’s Spring Steam Gala on the 21st, 22nd and 23rd April. Although the move was first mooted last Wednesday, it depended on the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway completing repairs to ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Norman, which was eventually achieved to their satisfaction yesterday, Sunday, at which point a contract signed by both the FRT and the NNR was exchanged. The holiday by the seaside is only planned to be short as 5643 is due to be back in action at Embsay over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend. Alan reports that 5643 seemed in good form on Saturday when, on the last train, it hauled eight carriages and a dead Class 37 (we’re used to them on the Furness Line!) to Bolton Abbey.

Last Tuesday saw the last gathering of the season at The Ale Emporium for the Preston Branch meeting when some video of the Great Central Railway was viewed.

The usual gathering at Preston on Wednesday took place although Mike and Paul decided to spend some time away at the seaside (Southport) on the pretext of getting some gear to cast a new plate for the gas cover on the RMB. We will no doubt see the result of their efforts in the next week or so. John fitting the lighting connectorsMeanwhile, John continued to reassemble the communication cord equipment on the RMB and affix the lighting connectors and dimension plates. Mike came in on Friday to follow up John’s work by re-installing some more panelling in the south side toilet after the communication cord chain had been reaffixed. The interior of the coach continues to be cleared of equipment, which is being stored on Mike Cook’s new shelves in the first class North London Railway coach body. This will make it easier to re-install the remainder of the interior panelling and to clean the seats.

Adrian continued his work on Wednesday to rid Caliban‘s frames of rust and flaking paint. With Alan having a day off, Adrian was in full Vesuvius mode in terms of dust. He must surely be getting closer to finishing this task. Howard with lubrication potTalking of which, Howard is on the finishing straight in machining and fitting the hinge pins on the new lubrication pots for Caliban. Lubrication pot support bracketsThe support brackets are also starting to bear black gloss paint.

Work on Wootton Hall has continued with various components receiving paint after having been dismantled by Keith and cleaned up by Fred and Roger – a gleaming vacuum reservoir is seen here. A gleaming vacuum reservoir from Wootton HallKeith also brought in one of Wootton Hall‘s nameplates on Friday for Derek to film as part of continuing documentary on the restoration of the loco. The newly renamed RMBIt is seen here with the RMB, which seems to have been temporarily named for the occasion!

5643's new ejector ring casting arrivesTim finally managed to bring the  casting for 5643’s new ejector ring down to Preston on Saturday, having coerced Neil into giving him a lift with getting it into the back of his car. It was removed at Preston by Keith in far simpler fashion with the aid of one of the fork lift trucks!

Monday 10th April 2017

We are sorry to have to start this blog with the news that long-time member, Bill Ashcroft, died last Thursday morning at the age of 82. We understand that Bill had just completed a course of chemotherapy the previous day following a diagnosis of lung cancer at the beginning of the year. He was certainly one of life’s characters and was involved at Haverthwaite in the early days, although an inability to drive through a medical condition resulted in a scaling down of his involvement. Bill then joined the support crew for the late Paddy Smith’s LMS liveried Black Five No. 5407 before transferring to the “dark side” of bus preservation, acquiring John Fishwick & Sons’ Leyland half cab double decker No. 10 which he restored. He latterly became involved with the restoration of a Leyland Lion. Bill took many railway photographs which recorded the end of steam and have been sort after by railway periodicals. He recalled to us how, when working at County Hall at Preston, he would nip off to the toilets, which held a prime viewing position overlooking the entrance to Preston station, in order to take photographs of passing steam traffic. More recently, Bill started to make frequent appearances at the FRT’s new shed at Preston and we will miss his cheerful voice recalling old times. Our condolences go to Bill’s wife, Ruth, and his family.

Work has continued at Preston this last week, although there was a pause in operations on Wednesday in order to observe sand blasting demonstration which had been arranged with a view to the RSR and FRT joining forces to buy some new equipment. The demo sand blastWho are they trying not to listen to?The onlookers can be seen here along with a photo of the sand blaster attacking the frames of Wootton Hall‘s tender. The demo showed that the compressor would need some attention before it could be used for sand blasting.

John preparing one of the lighting connector pattresses for fittingJohn has been busy re-fitting items on the RMB and can be seen here preparing one of the lighting cable pattresses. Mike has been back working in the toilets and Tim has varnished the east corridor end of the coach.

John and Alan contemplating workAlan and John H, seen here contemplating their next move, have been working on Caliban‘s running board and Adrian has removed some further scale and rust from the frames. Keith and David have been filling the scrap metal skip with scrap tubes and components from Wootton Hall.

George reports that work is proceeding at Shackerstone on Cumbria‘s big ends and a new clack valve. The loco should be back in traffic the weekend after Easter, subject to a satisfactory steam test.

Live Steam in actionOur folk band Live Steam had a busy Saturday evening at a private 70th birthday party at Out Rawcliffe village hall, which seemed to be successful. A victim for the zob stickTim reprised his tuition of the zob stick to an unsuspecting female from the audience.

Last call here for the final Preston Branch meeting of this season which will take place at 8 pm tomorrow, Tuesday evening, 11th April, at The Ale Emporium, Preston. Archive steam video will be screened.

Monday 3rd April 2017

John's adjusted pipeworkWith Mike and Paul away on holiday it was left to John and Tim to continue with the work on the RMB. John discovered that, when lettering the west end of the RMB, Tim hadn’t left much room for the re-installation of the vacuum pipe that connects to the communication cord valve. That meant either re-lettering the end of the RMB or John making some adjustments to the pipe which, as a true gentleman, he did! Phew! The repair on the heater coil is inspectedJohn also removed and repaired one of the toilet heater coils, which he is seen here inspecting. Meanwhile, at the other end of the RMB, Tim undercoated and then gloss coated the east end. Lettering and varnishing are still required when there is a break in the dust.

After hearing that we had made good use of the shelves that he had donated to the Trust, Michael Cook kindly arranged for the delivery of another set, which David promptly erected on Saturday. Thank you Michael – very much appreciated.

Adrian continued his assault on Caliban‘s frames with the needle gun and cup wire brush on Wednesday. The new piece of Caliban's running board in situThe new piece of running board, having received two coats of primer and undercoat underneath, was mounted on top of the frames. Alan then went on to remove another piece of plate.

George appeared on Friday and worked with Keith to place some of Wootton Hall‘s scrap metal in the newly provided waste skip outside the shed. Fred cleaning up Wootton Hall's vacuum reservoirFred cleaned up Wootton Hall‘s vacuum reservoir whilst Roger primed Caliban‘s wheels.

The task of procuring new components for the Trust can have unexpected repercussions. We’ve previously had Alan arriving home to find FR 20’s new cab spectacle plate outside his home in Blackpool, or David having to inform the driver of an articulated lorry that was trying to access his suburban road in Huyton that his delivery had been arranged to go to Appleby, not Huyton. So, this week we have the good news that the newly cast ejector ring for 5643 has now been delivered – the bad news is that the pallet load needs to be humped into the back of Tim’s estate car at Cark to be moved on down to Preston! Mrs O thought that it was all rather funny until she realised that she would need to give a hand with the lift!

Whitehead and the Grant Richie take water on Sunday during the RSR's Steam galaThe RSR’s Steam Gala over last weekend was well patronised and saw the guest appearance of Peckett 0-4-0ST No. 1163 Whitehead from the Midland Railway Centre. Keith, Alan and Tim were in action on the locomotives, whilst Alison made some useful money with the sales stand and young Matthew provided some useful assistance to the Family Focus Group in the museum.

This next Saturday sees our fund-raising folk band Live Steam in action at Out Rawcliffe Village Hall in the wilds of North Fylde. Will they ever make it to the Albert Hall?! Another practice is being held at Cark on Wednesday evening, although it maybe preceded by a weight lifting session (see above).

Finally another reminder that the final Preston Branch meeting of this season will take place at 8 pm on Tuesday evening, 11th April, at The Ale Emporium, Preston. Archive steam video will be screened.