Monday 17th December 2018

Last week’s blog contained a teaser that there was further news to be broadcast to you all. We can now reveal that the FRT has purchased a second-hand Collett 4,000 gallon tender tank that was advertised for sale nationally. Keith went to look at it at Tyseley and deemed it suitable for further use and ideal for fitting to Wootton Hall‘s chassis which has been the subject of extensive repairs over the past few years. The tank is not expected to arrive at Preston until the New Year.

Keith opens another early Christmas presentKeith is seen here opening another early birthday present on Wednesday when a set of newly cast axlebox underkeeps and brasses appeared in a delivery from the Severn Valley Railway. One of the new axlebox underkeeps for Wootton Hall's tenderThe axlebox underkeeps are indeed fine castings with no signs of corrective fettling, as can be seen here.

Adrian loads Wootton Hall's tender springsOn the departure side, Adrian is seen here placing on to the delivery lorry a set of six springs from Wootton Hall‘s tender which are to be overhauled after over fifty years out of use. Two spare springs are to be manufactured at the same time.

Keith fitting Wootton Hall's RH cab sideAnd talking of Wootton Hall, Keith is seen here temporarily fitting the right hand cab side in order to take measurements for boiler cladding and other fittings.

Wootton Hall's R/H cab side in position complete with numberplateAnother view here with the cab side number plate fitted completely alters the appearance of the loco and shows signs of things to come!

FR 20's boiler now re-positionedThe main job on Wednesday was to jack up FR 20’s boiler to allow easier access from under the firebox. The front of the boiler is now positioned on steel stands.

Elsewhere in the shed some smaller but nevertheless important jobs were tackled on Friday, including degreasing FR 20’s boiler cladding and rejuvenating steel trestles which had gone rusty after being used outside.

The FRT Christmas dinner was held at The Ribble Pilot pub on Saturday when 19 members and guests sat down to meal.

Looking forward to this next week, an NDT examination of FR 20’s boiler and Wootton Hall‘s tender wheelsets has been booked for this next Friday. The Iron Horse is now back with the printer after proof reading and, all being well, should be despatched to members before Christmas. The magazines will also contain membership renewal forms and it is hoped that you will all take the opportunity to return them quickly as we move towards yet another year with plenty of work on the horizon.

Finally, we hope shortly to be able to publish the details of some planned working parties over the Christmas period.

Monday 10th December 2018

Roger cleans one of FR 20's splashersMuch of volunteers’ time this week has been spent on the very basic but important task of cleaning up the motion, frames and boiler of Furness Railway No. 20. An undoubtedly dirty and sometimes very uncomfortable task, this type of work is sometimes inevitable during the day to day work of servicing and overhauling our locomotive fleet. However, if the load is spread, as in this case, it doesn’t become too much of a burden on any one particular person and we are pleased to report that Mike, John Dixon, John Davis, Paul Balshaw, Tim, Roger and Fred have all buckled down to the job with the result that it has progressed extremely well. Hopefully we will soon be in a position whereby can move on to other more satisfying work!John hard at work

Roger making use of scrap pipe

Andy Booth appeared on Sunday and has started the job of removing the tubes from FR 20’s boiler.

Howard has made some more progress on Fluff with assistance from George, who came to give us a hand on Saturday.

There was no riveting last Thursday as the gang is waiting for some special wedges which will enable the more awkward rivets to be fitted on Wootton Hall‘s tender frames. Working on the Hall's tenderMeanwhile, more progress has been made on the upper platework for the tender frames and the test fitting of components.

Keith with reverser standKeith has also been sizing up the position of the reverser stand on the loco frames so that other steelwork can be arranged around it.

The RSR’s Santa Specials along with the FRT sales stand have again consumed much volunteer labour this last weekend. Alan and Tim provided the music with assistance from Matthew on Sunday, Paul B and Mike helped Santa whilst John Davis, Jim, Alison and Jen ran the sales stand. That’s nine of us! With gales forecast, Tim and Matthew took the opportunity to be the first overnight campers in the mess hut to ensure that they were there in good time on Sunday and which we are told worked out well. Jim in festive moodJim is seen herein festive mood.

Looking forward, the Trustees have approved expenditure on the overhaul of the tender springs and the supply of two spares. It is anticipated that the six existing springs will be uplifted from the shed on Wednesday.

The Trustees have also approved the expenditure for a new safety wire system for working at height. It is planned to have this installed throughout the heated and unheated sections of road three of the shed. The technical sales representative of the supplier is due to pay us another visit on Wednesday to finalise details. Finally, just to add to this spending spree, the Trustees have also authorised expenditure on turning tyres and/or journals on a number of wheelsets, namely the three for the Hall‘s tender, two for Caliban and also the two tender wheelsets for FR 20. The work is expected to take place in February. There is something else on the way, but perhaps we’ll leave that for another blog!

Alan has completed the latest edition of The Iron Horse which is now with the printer. And a reminder here that it is the annual Christmas dinner on Saturday evening.

Monday 3rd December 2018

Christmas come earlyHeadline news for this week has been the arrival at Preston of the main components for former Furness Railway 0-4-0 No. 25, more recently known as Barrow Haematite Iron & Steel Co. 0-4-0ST No. 17.

As has been recounted previously in the blog, smaller items for the locomotive have been retrieved from Derby and Crewe, and the boiler components brought down from Stockton-on-Tees. However, it has been necessary to do rather more preparation before the Trust could receive the frames, cab, tank and wheels from storage at Carnforth. However, with the formal swapping of the FRT’s PMV with the RSR’s CCT and the removal of the body from the latter, the scene was set for the arrival of FR 25 last Wednesday morning.

FR 25 up and awayFortunately, all the planning and preparation paid off and the locomotive’s parts were safely offloaded from Martyn Soames low loader by a road crane and then secured on to the CCT frames. Forming a queue outside the FRT shedThe CCT was subsequently, on Thursday, moved around to stand outside the FRT’s shed, forming a queue for attention no doubt!

Fred dusts down FR 20's fireboxIn the meantime, work has continued to clean FR 20’s frames, wheels and motion on both Wednesday and Friday. Fred has now finished wire brushing the firebox and has made a good start on the boiler.

Paul Balshaw and John Davis completed the removal of the cantrail from GER No. 5 on Wednesday and the next stage will be to start the removal of the roof fittings. This is all in preparation for new roof canvas to be fitted.

We received a visit on Wednesday from a safety systems company who can supply a safety wire for the use of those working at height. There are a couple of options for the Trustees to consider.

John Dixon making his boxOne of Cumbria‘s clack boxes has been brought back from Embsay and John Dixon has spent some time making a box so that it can be despatched for repair.

Alan tells us that he is now in the final throes of preparing the next edition of The Iron Horse which it is hoped will be sent out around Christmastime.

Yet another riveting session on Wootton Hall‘s tender frames took place last Thursday, but there is likely to be a short break now whilst suitable wedges are brought in to enable the more awkward rivets to be fitted; this is in hand.

Finally, the RSR’s Santa Trains, which have been fully booked for some weeks, got off to a good start on Saturday and Sunday, with Alan and Tim reprising their roles as musical elves, Alison and Jen operating the FRT’s sales stand, and on Sunday Neil wielding the shovel on Courageous.