Monday 24th September 2018

5643 on the 12.00 to Bolton AbbeyWe start this week’s blog with the welcome news that 5643 has at last re-entered service at the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway following a lengthy lay off of nearly a year as a result of the need to renew the small tubes in the boiler. Keith attended to the safety valves last Tuesday and the boiler surveyor then gave the go-ahead for the loco to be used. A successful test train to Bolton Abbey was run on Friday following which 5643 operated the railway’s service on Saturday, seen here at Embsay with the 12.00 to Bolton Abbey.

Cumbria and 5643 at EmbsayThe following photo shows 5643 doing a yard shunt in between trains and also the FRT’s ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Cumbria which was about to be tested following the replacement of the clack box on the backhead by Keith last Tuesday.

Paul Balshaw and John Davis put red oxide on Caliban's cabWednesday turned out to be a rare dry day at Preston which enabled John Davis and Paul Balshaw to put another coat of red oxide on Caliban‘s cab and we hope that the weather this week will enable a layer of undercoat to be applied to protect the recently shot-blasted metal.

FR 20 'undressed'FR 20 has been moved out of the RSR workshop which enabled both Ade, Tim and John Dixon to move the cab sides and spectacle plate to the FRT shed on a borrowed large supermarket trolley which did the job perfectly.Supermarket sweep

Howard took the angle grinder to Fluff to release some bolts and Ade continued his beautification of Caliban‘s inside frames by rubbing down the paintwork with wet and dry paper.

Thursday saw another riveting session take placed on Wootton Hall‘s tender frames, with Matt Gervis, Keith and John Dixon doing the work again.

Tim, John Dixon and John Davis removed the fibreglass insulation from FR 20’s boiler on Friday and stored it on top of the tender. There are not too many jobs now to undertake before the boiler is ready for lifting. It is intended to remove the ashpan next Wednesday and this will enable formers to be prepared for the future new brick arch before we demolish the existing arch.

Fred and Bob appeared on Friday with Fred cleaning up more of FR 20’s components whilst Bob concentrated on preparing drawings of components for Wootton Hall‘s tender. Mike Rigg continued his work of sorting the bar electrics in the former FRT buffet car.

The TPO coach makes a rare out door appearance 210918Friday also saw the RSR’s TPO coach make a rare appearance outside the museum, still glistening after its recent paint job in the FRT shed.

70 802 in the RSR running shedElsewhere at the RSR there was an unexpected visitor in the running shed  when Colas Class 70 No. 70 802 took up residence pending the rectification of a track fault on the Strand Road level crossing.

Nearly finished - the new children's playgroundThe children’s playground is nearly ready for use, much to Alison’s relief. Work was delayed due to rain so completion of the groundworks was put back until Saturday. An official opening by Radio Lancashire’s John Gilmour is now scheduled for Saturday, 6th October.

70013 at Locomotion, ShildonFinally, it has been traditional for some FRT members to attend Locomotion’s Autumn Steam Gala at Shildon. Although FR 20 wasn’t on show there this year, Alan, Alison, Tim, Dickon and Peter van Zeller still braved the A66 roadworks to meet up with the Locomotion team, assist operations and to make or renew their acquaintance with visiting National Collection ‘Britannia’ Pacific 4-6-0 No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell plus Peckett 0-6-0ST No. 1970 of 1939 Ashington No.5/JackieMilburn from the North Tyneside Railway. Ashington No. 5 at LocomotionFortunately the weather was better than originally forecast and a good time was had by all.

Monday 17th September 2018

There is plenty of news this week.

Firstly there has been some very welcome success at Embsay to report. Keith and Ade went there on Wednesday to re-fit the regulator box using a specially prepared copper gasket following the previous failure of a graphite foil gasket. Keith and Fred then went to Embsay on Saturday and, with the assistance of staff there, fitted the superheater elements and lit a warming fire. Keith was back there again on Sunday morning with steam successfully raised to working pressure. There is just one further piece of work to do to correct one of the safety valves which is lifting light which Keith will attend to on Tuesday. A formal steam test can then be arranged to take place in the presence of the boiler surveyor.

Keith also brought back Cumbria‘s fireman’s side injector from Embsay to Preston for attention. Bill Norton with Cumbria's fireman's side stem valveBill Norton is seen here preparing to machine the joint face which had developed some unevenness on the surface which, together with some pitting on the firebox backhead had caused a gasket to blow.

Further progress was made on Wednesday and Friday with the stripping down of FR 20 in readiness for a boiler lift. John Dixon at work in FR 20's smokeboxJohn Dixon released the blast pipe nuts on Wednesday. FR 20 with steel cladding removedThen on Friday the massed forces of John, Tim, Alan, Fred and Roger managed to removed the tightly fitted steel boiler cladding (or clothing as John has pointed out it was called by the LMS) and then the crinolines. This was all transferred from the RSR workshop to the FRT shed ready for cleaning and painting.

Fred cleans up one of FR 20's sand pipesFred also managed to find time to clean up one of FR 20’s sand pipes whilst Roger occupied himself by giving a set of Caliban’s wheels a second coat of red oxide.Roger gives another coat of red oxide to Caliban's wheels

John Davis gave FR 20’s tender coal space a coat of grey undercoat on Wednesday and then started the job of preparing GERs’s bogies for a repaint.

A ghostly Mike Rigg in the former FRT RMBMike Rigg has continued his work to get the fan behind the former FRT RMB counter re-fitted and working. This has entailed the fitting of fresh woodwork to support the fan and the installation of conduit and wiring. Also in his sights is the aim to get the counter lights to work again. Mike is seen here preparing the wood framework to receive the fan.

The corner posts on the cabin in the correct shade of yellowThe corner posts on the FRT’s mess cabin have been painted to a shade of yellow which has met with the satisfaction of John Dixon, who was keen that they blended in with the FRT shed situated behind the cabin. Tim reckoned that we needed some canary yellow and remembered painting the FRT kayak that colour some thirty years ago. Sure enough Tim found the remainder of that undercoat and gloss paint at the back of his garage, which turned out to be enough to cover the corner posts. It just underlines the male argument that you should never throw anything away that might be useful at some time in the future!

Finally, we reported last week the sad death of member Jeff Mimnagh. We have now been informed that his funeral will take place at 1 pm on Wednesday, 26th September at All Saints Church, New Longton.


Tuesday 11th September 2018

A day late this week, probably because there don’t appear to be enough hours in the day at the moment!

Unfortunately we start with the sad news that Jeff Mimnargh died in hospital last Saturday. Jeff was a member of the LRC and LRS in the very early days (membership number 0075) who lived at Leyland and was a regular at the Friday evening get-togethers in the Railway Inn at Lostock Hall. He rejoined the FRT after the purchase of Wootton Hall. We are also very sorry to have to record the death of RSR member Jimmy Gardner, who helped out the FRT with his white metalling skills. Jimmy’s funeral will take place at Blackpool Crematorium at 10.00 on Friday. We offer our condolences to both Jeff and Jimmy’s families.

Turning to FRT projects, there was further progress to report at Preston last week.

Tim finished off the gloss coat of grey on the mess cabin, which just awaits the yellow on the corner posts once the correct shade of yellow is found to John’s satisfaction! This is a project that has taken many weeks in between other pressing needs in the shed and has been thwarted by extremes of weather – either too hot or too wet! And many people have been involved, so thanks to all of them. It has been a job worth doing and certainly makes the place look tidier.

Turf being laid by Ed Tatham in the new gardenAlso making a welcome improvement to the local environment has been Ed Tatham who has been working to create a garden adjacent to the children’s playground and alongside the walking route to the FRT shed. Ed is seen here lying turf which would certainly not be out of place at Wembley.

John Dixon did a final clean up of FR 20’s tender coal space on Wednesday before applying a coat of red oxide. John Davis giving a second coat of primer to FR 20's tender coal spaceA second coat of red oxide was applied on Friday by John Davis, seen here with the paint brush.

Adrian and Howard have again been busy with Caliban, with Adrian tidying up the paintwork between the frames. He has also been doing some work on FR 20, undoing the boiler expansion bracket screws ready for the time when the boiler will be lifted.

Keith has continued to have a frustrating time at Embsay preparing the surface of 5643’s smokebox to receive the regulator box. Keith and Adrian are now due to go to Embsay this Wednesday to continue the work.

Fred with the newly cleaned up vacuum pipework from FR 20Fred made further progress with cleaning up the components removed from FR 20, this time cleaning up and priming the engine’s vacuum pipework. Mike and Paul Newton spent more time on Friday with the delinquent extractor fan in the former FRT RMB before casting another couple of resin plates.

Finally there was a good representation from Preston at Crewe Crematorium on Friday for Dave Manley’s funeral. There were also representatives there from Crewe Heritage Centre where Dave was also a member.

Monday 3rd September 2018

It has been another week of graft although we are yet to see some of the fruits of these efforts.

Keith has spent quite a lot more time over at Embsay in his efforts to achieve a satisfactory seating of the regulator box on the smokebox tubeplate. Some unevenness on the surface of the tubeplate is causing packings to be blown out at only 5 psi. Some Taylor (brass corrugated) sealing rings were ordered on Wednesday which will be used once Keith is happy with his work in the smokebox.

FR 20's cab spectacle plate now removedFR 20’s front spectacle plate was removed on Wednesday with the help of the workshop crane and John Dixon continued the process of removing both the boiler cladding and the hand rails on Friday. Fred cleaned up some of the components that had been removed on his appearance on Friday.

Adrian and Howard continued their work on Caliban and Roger painted the backs of the wheels.

The west side of the mess hut now paintedTim finished painting the west side of the mess hut and it is hoped that the south end and some of the protruding east side can be painted this next week.

John Davis and Paul Newton continued their work on the L&NWR bench seat, which was appreciated at the weekend by the daughter of the gentleman who had originally donated the bench to the RSR’s museum. She now looks forward to seeing the finished restoration when she returns in a couple of months – no pressure, then, chaps!

Mike and Paul Balshaw have been continuing their work on de-mystifying the electrics on the former FRT RMB with the aim of getting the fan and lights to come on at the flick of their respective switches.

Finally, those who have followed our locos around the country in campervans have long understood the necessity of taking along a stock of duct tape and WD40: the duct tape to be applied to things that move, but shouldn’t, and the WD40 to be applied to those items that should move but don’t. It was heartening, therefore, to learn that, when the International Space Station (ISS) sprang a life threatening leak after a collision with some galactic debris this week, the astronaut turned to their own supply of duct tape to seal the leak! Sometimes the simplest of solutions are the best.