Monday 16th July 2018

The shot blasters returned to Preston last Wednesday to clean off some original angle steel for Wootton Hall and also to make a good start on two cabs, the first of which belongs to Caliban. Adrian paints Caliban's cabAdrian can be seen here starting the process of applying red oxide to the cleaned up cab.Aunt SallyMeanwhile Alan seemed pleased with the results of the shotblasting.

Roger painting Caliban's cabFred and Roger finished the job on Friday, but not before the cab had unfortunately been sprayed with the first rain in weeks! Fred working on Caliban's cabThe shotblasters should be returning this Wednesday to tackle the cab roof and also another cab that does not belong to the FRT.

The Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon now has two coats of varnish on it as well as the initial coat of gold size. One of the next jobs to be undertaken will be the replacement of the canvas roof, which has been leaking for some time. Only then will it make sense for the upholstery to be tackled. In the meantime, John Dixon has been repairing more of the droplights.

With FR 20 now out of ticket, both Pauls and John Davis were engaged last Wednesday with the task of emptying the tender of coal, ready for the painting process to be commenced. It is planned to undertake an initial wash out of the boiler this next Wednesday.

Keith has been making more progress with Wootton Hall‘s tender frames, drilling holes to enable the front hornguides to be attached. The planned riveting exercise last Thursday didn’t materialise owing to Matt Gervis being under the weather.

Over at Embsay, Andy Booth has completed the re-tube of 5643 and also the fitting of eight more patch screws. It was planned yesterday to start the process of conducting a hydraulic test on the boiler after which the front end (superheaters and header etc) will need to be re-assembled. Re-tubing 5643 with the boiler still in the frames has been an extremely tricky task, the completion of which has apparently surprised the owners of other 56XX locos  who reckoned that it couldn’t be done with the boiler still in the frames.

Cumbria‘s regulator has been giving problems of late and, when removed, has shown signs of scoring. Fortunately, the FRT has a spare which was destined for FR 25 and this has been taken across to Embsay to see if it will effect an early return to traffic. New innards for the fireman’s side injector have also been purchased and sent across to Embsay.

Next week sees the start of the main school holidays so there will be a break in the publication of the blog whilst the team get some R&R. We will return in two weeks, unless something major needs reporting to you, in which case it’ll be sooner!

Monday 9th July 2018

FR20 heads to Strand Road
Photo by Ian Hardman

Sunday 8th July 2018 has been in our diaries for a long time, as it was scheduled to be the last day of FR 20’s boiler certificate before its 10 year boiler lift and overhaul. For that reason the loco was scheduled to operate the trains on the Ribble Steam Railway on both the Saturday and Sunday, with excellent weather to hand – well we had had plenty of time to put in the request for it!

The end is nigh - last day in serviceSaturday was a little quiet (something to do with a football game!), but plenty of people, including many members and friends, came along to say “Goodbye” on Sunday. Coincidentally, Neil was able to spend his first full day on the footplate at Preston that day as he looks to regain his fireman’s ticket – at least he had a loco that he knew from times past.

Back on shed - the end of a seond ten years certificateSadly, after handling the train service and rake of three coaches without fuss, FR 20 retired to the shed at the end of service on Sunday afternoon in steam for the last time for a while. As Tim put it at this point: “finish with engines”.  We know from the large amount interest on the internet that everyone is willing the FRT to get the loco back in traffic as soon as feasibly possible.

There has again been steady progress in the FRT shed at Preston. Tim has been applying more gold size and varnish to Great Eastern Royal Saloon No. 5 whilst John Dixon and Mike have been undertaking repairs to droplights. John Dixon repairing one of GER No. 5's droplightsJohn is seen here cleaning out a droplight sill prior to reassembling it. Roger has started the job of sanding down and priming parts of the buffers and couplings.

With the weather far too hot to progress the painting of the exterior of the mess room, John Davis and Paul Newton undertook their own version of Scrapheap Challenge amongst the various paraphernalia near the FRT shed and found the remains of an L&NWR bench seat, which they are now interested in restoring.

Fred cleaning up 5643's regulator quadrantKeith has brought back some of 5643’s components from Embsay for fettling and Fred is seen here on Friday cleaning up the regulator quadrant. Keith was due to go over to Embsay on Sunday as he looks to get 5643 back in steam as quickly as possible.

Keith setting up the axleboxes in Wootton Hall's tender framesIn the meantime, Keith has been lining up Wootton Hall‘s tender axleboxes with the overhauled tender frames, seen here at work. A further riveting session is planned for Thursday.

Finally, for those of you who are wondering where latest edition of members’ magazine The Iron Horse has got to, we can tell you that Alan is currently sorting out the layout and choosing the photos in readiness for it to go to the printer.

Monday 2nd July 2018

Well the heat is definitely on, in more ways than usual, as we tackle the queue of jobs that we have at the moment.

The work on Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5 is proceeding at a steady pace as John Dixon fills the cracks in the teak panels and Tim applies more gold size and varnish.

Alan Ogden with the switch boxAlan Ogden has once again been tackling the instruments and smaller electrical items on Fluff and is seen here with a refurbished switch box.Fluff's refurbished electric switch box

At last, it came freeAde, Alan and Howard have been hard at it in their efforts to remove the final spring hanger pin on Caliban‘s frames. Suffice to say that plan Z didn’t produce immediate results, but lots of sweat and toil were duly expended and victory was eventually achieved.

Neat rivets on Wootton Hall's tender framesIt is pleasing to be able to report that the riveting session on Wootton Hall the previous Thursday had seen approximately 50 rivets installed, and evidence of a neat job is seen in this photo of a newly riveted bracket on the front portion of the frames.

Tender steps backing plates for Wootton hallBacking plates for the tender cab steps have also been bent to shape.

Front plate for Wootton HallAnd a newly fabricated and shaped plate is seen here on the frames in front of the boiler.

With all this progress being made on the project, Keith has, at not inconsiderable expense, now placed an order for two new live steam injectors for Wootton Hall with South Coast Steam of Portland, Dorset.

Alan Middleton has also been in touch with South Coast Steam, in this case to order new injector components for Cumbria‘s left hand injector to replace items which had become badly worn.

Last week’s AGM was unusually chaired by Neil in the absence of Tim, who was elsewhere to see son Matthew passed out as a Police Cadet. The meeting passed smoothly although took four minutes longer than the previous year – must have been something to do with Tim’s lengthy written report!

Railway band in a bus stationAlan, Tim and Pete Skellon successfully made it to the Bolton Station Community Gala on Saturday and, would you believe it, played railway songs in the bus interchange for half an hour! Must have been rail replacement songs! Both Alan and Pete had been disorganised in forgetting to take their mobile phones with them, but between you and us Alan also forgot to take a set of teeth – but we won’t tell anyone, will we?

Finally, FR 20 makes its last public appearance in steam at the Ribble Steam Railway this next Saturday and Sunday before its ten year boiler overhaul.