Tuesday 31st October 2017

We’ve been back into full swing this week with plenty of activity to report.

Mike in the RMB fuse boxThere has been more snagging work taking place on the RMB, with John Dixon tidying up the varnish where he has repaired the panelling, Mike has been doing some more testing of the electrics (seen here) and John Davis has been cleaning up the aluminium panelling. cleaned and polished light for the RMB servery areaA newly polished ceiling light is also seen here ready for fitting. Tim and Fred have been back on the roof of the TPO vehicle, which has had a through clean up and just needs a final sweep before applying filler and primer where necessary. Howard has finished removing the yellow lining tape on the sides.

Ade has continued some reassembly of Caliban, with the sand boxes being lifted back into position. Howard has started to fabricate some new sand box covers.

Steel plate from BrazilKeith took delivery of some new steel plate (from Brazil, apparently) and started cutting it in readiness to be stitched on to the front of Wootton Hall‘s tender chassis.

Vacuum retaining valve for Wootton Hall

A second hand vacuum retaining valve has been obtained for Wotton Hall and kindly sponsored by one of our members.

Unmachined hydrostatic lubricator warming cocks for Wootton HallTwo un-machined hydrostatic lubricator warming cocks for the Hall have also been purchased at £60 each and sponsors for these are also sought.

The new high pressure power washer is assembledQuite some time was spent last Wednesday assembling the new petrol powered high pressure washer that was donated recently. This was in readiness for the visit tomorrow to Shildon for the preparation of FR 20 for its boiler survey on Friday. Despite actually reading the manual for once (!!) and applying the necessary oil and petrol, the engine refused to start. Fortunately, Ribble Rail’s Jason Finnerty had a look at it and detected that there was no flow of fuel to the engine – it appears that the fuel filter was solid. Once a hole had been drilled in the filter, the engine worked fine!

The mess room in the process of touching downSaturday saw the long awaited move of the recently acquired mess room into its new resting place by the shed. Keith had laid out some supporting blocks, which John then deemed to be perfectly aligned(!), and the big Hi-ab lorry from JN Civils next door easily managed the job. The mess room in its new homeJust the electrics and the drain to sort out now. And maybe now we see a need to keep it grey, but paint the corner posts yellow?!

So which Alan is the spook?The weekend also saw the annual spooky trains at the Ribble Steam Railway, who created their own spook called Alan. The two Alans are seen here side by side – guess which is the spook!

Spook Live Steam at the Engine InnLive Steam reunited after a summer’s absence from the music stage to perform at the Engine Inn at Cark – see another spooky photo or two! Tim and Alan perform the Rawtenstall Annual FairEveryone seemed to enjoy themselves and the band may well be back there for New Year’s Eve.


Tuesday 24th October 2017

It has been a little quieter at Preston with Alan, Tim, Ade and Keith all absent for various reasons.

John Dixon fitting door seals on the RMBJohn Dixon has finished the door frame beadings on the RMB and has been installing new rubber sealing strips at the bottom of the door frames, which should reduce draughts within the coach. John Davis has been undertaking more cleaning within the coach, Mike has been picking out lettering on battery and gas boxes beneath the frames and Paul has been fettling the door locks on the cupboards.Paul fitting cupboard door locks on the RMN

Howard and David have continued to remove the yellow stripes on the RSR’s TPO vehicle. Roger and Fred on the magic carpetFred and Roger spent Friday on the ‘magic carpet’ cleaning and de-rusting the north side of its roof.

Wednesday’s operations were somewhat disrupted by a fire warden’s course and those present were able to practice their fire-fighting skills with a fire extinguisher.

The main event of the week has been in Scotland at the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway where 5643 was used for an all day photo charter on Friday followed by a Fish & Chip Special that evening, which had been sold out. It then went on to star at the B&KR’s Steam Gala where it performed on Saturday and Sunday alongside the home loco fleet.

SRPS Facebook photoThere is a photo here from the B&KR’s Facebook site showing 5643 approaching Birkhill with a service train the previous weekend. 5643 leaving Bo'ness with 'teak' stock on Saturday, 21st October 2017Alan has been working all hours to brief crews and to assist in the preparation of the loco and Alison has made a very useful contribution to the Trust’s coffers through the operation of the sales stand in the buffet car. 5643 at Manuel on the B&KR on Saturday 21st October 2017Tim visited on Saturday to be followed by Keith on Sunday. Everyone at the B&KR appeared to be  impressed by 5643’s performance and seemed to enjoy having its presence there over the two weekends.

Looking forward, Live Steam are performing at the Engine Inn at Cark next Saturday evening and there will of course be spooky trains at the RSR next weekend. Also, a Hi-ab lorry has been booked to move the mess room at Preston on Saturday. The following Tuesday will see a working party at Locomotion, Shildon, as members assemble for a dirty day out as they prepare FR 20 for its 14 month boiler examination.

Monday 16th October 2017

It has been another full week of activity to keep us busy.

The Preston Branch meeting on Tuesday turned out to be an unfortunate catalogue of cancellations. Ade’s train from the Pleasure Beach was cancelled so he had to find an alternative means of getting to the meeting. Then it was found that the landlord of The Ale Emporium had changed and the usual room had been hired out to a ladies’ dance group(!). The evening then became an opportunity for members to have a beer or two whilst having an enjoyable discussion. Alan’s new ‘phone became the source of the evening’s photos, the main feature being the X-Ray of Alison’s knee (see last week’s blog) and bruised legs! Others continued to chat, with a break out party to the Vic, whilst Tim had to hurry home after discovering that the later Furness Line train had been cancelled as well…!

There was a good turn out at Preston on Wednesday. John Davis and Mike with the water boiler in the RMBJohn Dixon continued with his woodwork on the RMB door beading, whilst Mike and John Davis cleaned the servery area and re-fitted the water boiler. Fred cleaning the TPO roofTim spent the day cleaning the south side of the TPO vehicle roof, which was finished on Friday with the assistance of Fred. Paul has been vacuuming the seats, which now look much better after his attention. Only another 200 feet of tape to go!Howard continued the challenge of removing the yellow tape from the sides of the TPO and on Saturday Howard and David between them managed to finish removing both yellow stripes from the north side of the TPO – as Howard said, parking restrictions have now been removed!

Which way does it go tother?Ade was busy re-assembling the reverser gear on Caliban after some deliberation with Alan as to how it fitted together.It fits now!

Sam at work cleaning stud threadsMeanwhile Sam spent a considerable time cleaning up the threads of the studs for Caliban‘s valve covers.

Keith removing the rivetsJohn H is seen here giving Keith a hand, who was removing old rivets from the Hall’s tender frames. JH at work on a GWR loco!We had to remind John H that he had been caught red handed working on a GWR loco! John Stewart welding Wootton Hall's tender framesJohn Stewart came in on Saturday to do some welding on the frames, seen here, and the buffer beam was then temporarily fitted on to the frames.The new buffer beam temporarily fitted.to Wootton Hall's tender frames

5643 at Bo'ness waiting to take the 14.10 train to ManuelAs you will recall, 5643 was due to be transported up to the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway on Monday, but when Alan and Alison arrived there on Thursday afternoon it was nowhere to be seen. It finally arrived on Thursday evening to be offloaded on Friday morning. The causes of the delay were driver sickness, a fault with the trailer, flooding on the A65 on Wednesday and a crane fire near Kendal on the M6 on Thursday morning, which caused the northbound carriageway to the closed.

5643 being prepared at Bo'ness on SaturdayHowever, having said all that, Alan reports that 5643 ran well on Saturday and Sunday on the B&KR’s service train with barely a slip on that bank past Birkhill. It seems that some of the people attending the photo charter next Friday were trying out South Wales headcode targets (eg Abercynon to Merthyr Tydfil) on the loco to make sure that they would fit. Alison set up a souvenir sales stand in the buffet car as well as taking some photos for us to enjoy.5643 ready for the right away on Saturday morning.

Moving on, no sooner have we finished completing the 14 month boiler strip down and examination on 5643 than it is the turn of Furness Railway No. 20 to undergo the same process. A working party at Locomotion, Shildon, has been scheduled for Tuesday, 31st October with a cold examination by the boiler surveyor booked for Friday, 3rd November. A formal steam test has been provisionally booked for Friday, 10th November, in advance of two further booked steamings on the 11th and 12th in connection with a Lego event.

Monday 9th October 2017

The principal task last week was the completion of the work required to put 5643 into an operable condition after its firebox work and subsequent cold examination by the boiler surveyor.

Old and new blower rings for 5643A working party took place at Embsay on Wednesday with Keith, John Dixon and John Davis travelling across with the newly machined blower ring, refractory concrete and formers for the brick arch together with a variety of tools. The new and old blower rings are pictured above. Alan had also travelled down and the gang were successful in installing the new blower ring before 5643 was drawn out of the shed to allow Alan to put in a warming fire. Alan and John Dixon returned to Embsay on Thursday to fire up the loco for its scheduled steam test at 14.30 which it duly passed.

There was another gathering at Embsay when the new brick arch was cast and Fred and Keith cleaned up the exterior of 5643, a task which Keith continued on Sunday. 5643 is due to be transported to Bo’ness today (Monday) and Alan is planning to drive up to Scotland on Thursday with a test steaming at Bo’ness planned for Friday. The loco is then planned to be in normal service on Saturday and Sunday, then the following Friday (Photo Charter and evening Fish & Chip Special), and Saturday and Sunday for the Gala.

The process of getting 5643 through its annual boiler survey and steam test, together with the associated works, in time for its trip to Scotland, devoured much time and effort from the Trust’s volunteers and also that of Steve Shearing who machined the new blower ring. Hearty thanks go to all those involved and also to our boiler surveyor for arranging his diary to fit into our schedule.

Howard at work with scraper on the TPOAs promised in last week’s blog, the RMB has moved out of the heated part of the shed with its place being taken by the RSR’s Post Office Sorting Vehicle No. 80377. Tim and David took plenty of measurements and photographs before the graphics are removed to allow painting to take place. Tim then started to remove loose paintwork on the roof whilst, on Saturday, David and Howard commenced the task of removing the two 2″ wide yellow lines which had been taped on to the bodywork. It had been thought that a heat gun would assist in the removal of the tape, but the fact that there are two layers of tape defeated these efforts and so it was necessary to resort to scrapers to make progress.

With Mike away it was left to Paul and John Davis to continue the remaining jobs on the RMB on Friday including a clean up of the old water boiler and more shining of the brass work. Ade at workAdrian made further progress with painting up Caliban‘s components, seen here with one of the pins. There is also a view of a sparkling brake beam.Caliban's sparkling brake beam

Alan and Alison were at Locomotion, Shildon over the weekend for two more steamings of FR 20. Unfortunately, Alison’s knee, which she injured in a fall at Preston last weekend whilst preparing for the Folk Evening, flared up on the Saturday resulting in an unexpected trip to both Bishop Auckland and Darlington hospitals before doctors were able to declare that the problem was severe bruising, which would require Alison to rest. And there lies the problem, for it is a well known fact that Alison doesn’t do ‘resting’! We all wish her well for a speedy recovery.

FR 20’s boiler certificate will expire before its next planned steamings on the 11th and 12th November, so it will be necessary to prepare the locomotive for a cold examination by the boiler surveyor. It is provisionally planned that a working party will visit Shildon on Tuesday, 31st October, depending on the availability of our usual loyal volunteers.

Finally, it is that time of year again when we start the winter season of Preston branch meetings. The first will take place tomorrow, Tuesday 10th October, at 8 pm at The Ale Emporium, Fylde Road, Preston when, no doubt, more steamy videos will be shown.

With the RMB almost ready to be passed over for operation on the Ribble Steam Railway, we leave you with a ‘blast from the past’ photo of Carriage and Wagon stalwarts David Rimmer and John Dixon behind the counter on a visit to Cowlairs, Glasgow, to inspect the new acquisition on Saturday, 15th January 1982. Can it really be 35 years since it was purchased?!Mine's a pint!

Monday 2nd October 2017

Yet another busy week has passed by – well we don’t really want too many quiet times, but the occasional rest would be useful…!

5643 passed its cold inspection with the boiler surveyor on  Thursday, and Keith and George were planning to head over to Embsay yesterday (Sunday) to refit the safety valves, washout plugs and mudhole doors. Steve Shearing machines the new blower ring for 5643Meanwhile, Steve Shearing has been spending many hours in the workshop at Preston machining the new blower ring and elbow in readiness for fitting before the steam test. This has been quite a challenge to accomplish in time and it is hoped that it will be ready to fit on Wednesday before the fire is lit! A steam test has been scheduled for Thursday afternoon after which a new brick arch will have to be fitted before the loco leaves Embsay on Monday morning for its visit to the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway over the following two weekends.

The RMB has been spending its last week in the heated part of the shed as a move into the unheated part has been arranged for today, Monday. The TPO coach waiting a move into the FRT shedIts place will be taken by the RSR’s Post Office Sorting vehicle No. 80377 which was recently purchased from the Kirklees Light Railway and is planned to be used as an exhibit in the museum. Built in 1972, the vehicle was withdrawn from service in 2004. Whilst, on the surface, it does not appear to be in too bad a condition, there will be plenty of tidying up to do on the bodywork before it can be painted.

The various snagging jobs on the RMB were the subject of further work this week, and here we have to confess that a previous blog report that John Dixon had nearly finished replacing the panelling and beading around the doors was proven to be incorrect. John was keen to point out that such jobs take rather longer than people think and the blog team profusely apologises for belittling the task!

Mike making the RMB light upA shore electrical supply was  connected to the RMB so that the lights could be tested. Although many of them were not working initially, this was mainly because of dirty contacts. By the time that Mike Rigg had finished his work only one light bulb actually had to be changed. John Davis cleaning the metalwork in the RMBJohn Davis (seen here) and Paul carried on the other jobs inside the RMB including polishing the brasswork, which had obviously not seen a cleaning rag for many a year.

Adrian continued his work with a paintbrush on Caliban, giving a coat of black to the reverser quadrant whilst John H and Alan attended to other important jobs such as making a decision on the main colour scheme for the loco. The trouble with having so many choices is that you can't make up your mind!At Adrian’s request Tim had brought in a pile of colour charts as Ade has hopes of painting the wheels in the not too distant future. Having brought the number of shades of blue down to a choice of three, Alan and John finally opted to be contrary by choosing ‘Pacific Blue’ for a 0-4-0 saddle tank loco!

Wootton Hall‘s tender frames are now perched on a custom built steel stand constructed by Keith from some scrap RSJs which had been acquired. Roger and Fred turned up very late on Friday having been stuck on the M6 for a couple of hours north of Preston. Roger put a coat of grey undercoat on Wootton Hall‘s brake beams whilst Fred went cleaning up the former Foxfield water column.

The RSR’s Autumn Diesel Gala was successful and was augmented by the addition of a visiting DRS Class 37, which came down from Kingmoor at Carlisle. There was also some evening running in conjunction with a Folk Evening in the cafe which Alison had organised to raise funds for the new children’s playground, with music being provided by Fleetwood Folk Club. The whole event turned out to be a great success, so well done to Alison, to all those who provided the music, the front of house staff and, of course, the diesel gang who ran the trains. There is already talk of another similar event next year.

Last Thursday afternoon Tim went across to Locomotion at Shildon on behalf of the FRT to attend a Stakeholder Reception to mark the takeover of Locomotion by the Science Museum Group (SMG). The museum had previously been run as a partnership between Durham County Council and the National Railway Museum. It was announced that Durham County Council is to fund the conservation of the Grade 1 listed coal drops, which have been fenced off because of a deterioration in their condition. Ian Blatchford, Director of the SMG, then confirmed that the SMG is going to spend £1.6m on conserving the historic buildings at the Hackworth end of the site and that he had aspirations to spend more money on telling the story of Shildon’s contribution to the early days of railway operation. It was all very uplifting!

Next weekend sees Alan and Alison also head once again over the Pennines to Locomotion at Shildon for a couple more FR 20 steamings in connection with the Shildon Model Railway Exhibition.