Monday 25th March 2019

We start this week’s blog with the good news that 5643 successfully operated a train from Embsay to Bolton Abbey yesterday, double-heading with Taff Vale 0-6-2T No.85 – a rare case of two ‘Taffy Tanks’ operating together! The run successfully drew to a conclusion the winter work on 5643 which has included the replacement of three stays. Well done to Keith and his team.

Cumbria's running board ready for undercoat.Back at Preston, it has very much been a case of ‘more of the same’ as our members have continued to clean up the Trust’s ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Cumbria. The running plate and cab steps have been rubbed down and primed ready for the undercoat to be applied this week. Phil Scales rubs down Cumbria's cab stepsNew member Phil Scales is seen here busy with the sand paper.

Work has also continued on Cumbria‘s regulator valve which has given trouble over the past year. We’ll spare you yet another photo of Bob with his feeler gauges but we can report that the sliding brass faces are very much close to being finished. Tim came in on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday to try and tame the ‘J’ pipe, which is also looking much closer to the finishing line.

Alan Ogden has re-appeared from the south west to continue his work on Fluff‘s electrical systems whilst Howard, John Davis and David, among others, have again been working on the frames.

There is promise of further progress on Caliban this week with John Marrow due to arrive tomorrow and Wednesday to re-bore the cylinders.

56090 on a RSR passenger train 230319Saturday and Sunday marked the start of 2019 passenger services on the Ribble Steam Railway with a successful Diesel Gala. Guest Colas C0-C0 locomotive No. 56 090 is seen here on the end of one of the trains.

Finally, we conclude with further good news in that the lease for the Furness Railway Trust Shed has been executed today. It appears that years of persistence have paid off and thanks go to everyone who has been involved in what has turned out to be rather a long drawn out process. We have a home that we can rightly call our very own at last!

Monday 18th March 2019

Work continues on preparing the Trust’s two current operational locomotives for the forthcoming operating season.

Bob and Tim spent last Wednesday and Friday with their noses literally to the grindstone as they strove to face up Cumbria‘s regulator valve with the ‘J’ pipe. Howard, with John Davis as apprentice, ran the surface grinder over the steel plate that had previously been cut by Keith to enable carborundum paste to be applied to the surfaces, having detected a bow in it. Bob uses a feeler gauge to check progress with work on Cumbria's regulator valveBob is seen applying his feeler gauge to check test progress. By the end of Friday both the regulator valve and the ‘J’ pipe were deemed to be in much better shape although further work will be required this next week. In view of time pressures, Tim spent another day on the job today.

Phil rubs down Cumbria's running boardThe spruce up of Cumbria has also continued apace, led by John Dixon and assisted by Phil Bell and Phil Scales. The running board is receiving a rub down with a view to giving it a fresh coat of black paint in the near future.

Turning to our other operational loco, Keith and Fred went to Embsay on Saturday to undertake a washout on 5643. Keith’s description of the weather is unprintable here, for both he and Fred got soaked to the skin. Fortunately, after having put the loco back into one piece, a fire was lit on Sunday and, at relatively low pressure, the newly fitted stays appeared satisfactory. Keith plans a further visit on Thursday to complete the fitting of firebox cladding before returning at the weekend to undertake a full steam test.

Adrian was been busy on FR 20’s heavy general overhaul on Wednesday where he removed the valve chest cover and split the right hand piston rod from the cross head. Ade has his eyes on splitting the left hand rod and cross head next week. This will then enable the pistons to be extracted for the piston rings to be changed. Alan inspects FR 20's valve chestAlan is seen here on Friday inspecting the results of Ade’s endeavours.

Roger Benbow cleans FR 20's drawhook springRoger spent more time cleaning, in this case up FR 20’s drawhook spring.

Keith has, as expected, been busy with Wootton Hall where he has connected up the rear vacuum pipe on the tender. Bill Norcross test fits a newly machined axlebox brassBill Norcross has started the machining of the new axlebox brasses and completed the first successful fitting into an axlebox on Friday.


Monday 11th March 2019

Last Wednesday’s working party included an optional visit with RSR colleagues to the Commercial Vehicle Museum at Leyland, which was very much enjoyed by those who went. Some went off afterwards to review the learning points from the visit in one of the local hostelries (!) whilst others returned to Preston to continue their work on the FRT’s current projects.

Phil Bell and John Dixon getting to grips with cleaning Cumbria's motion and framesA great deal of progress was made on both Wednesday and Friday with the thorough clean being given to Cumbria. Roger, Phil Bell,  and John Dixon have concentrated their efforts on the frames, motion and brake rigging whilst John Davis worked on the wheels.

Cumbria's J pipe after machiningMatt Jervis had successfully removed the ‘J’ pipe from the boiler which was subsequently machined by Bill Norcross.

Bob with Cumbria's regulator valveBob and Tim spent all their time on Friday (strictly limited number of tea breaks!) in their efforts to produce flat polished surfaces on both the regulator valve and ‘J’ pipe faces. Keith had kindly manufactured a flat steel plate to size with which to apply the carborundum paste although one or two high spots on the cast iron ‘J’ pipe needed some rather more aggressive attention! The task is still quite a way from completion and more work is planned for this next week.

Over at Embsay, Matt has successfully reamed and tapped out the three stay holes on the backhead of 5643’s firebox. On Saturday he then fitted and caulked up the  new stays, which had conveniently arrived at Preston on Friday. A working party is planned for next Saturday during which it is hoped to conduct a washout of the boiler after which, if all is well, a warming fire will be lit in anticipation of a steam test next Sunday.

And as usual, there was further work this week on Fluff, with Howard making an additional visit on Friday to surprise us all!

Monday 4th March 2019

There may have been a fortnight’s gap in publishing a blog, but you can be assured that there has been plenty of work going on during that time.

Ade tries out the cherry pickerA major project completed has been the installation of the new overhead safety wire system on road three of both the heated and unheated sections of the FRT shed. Wednesday, 20th February was spent on moving various pieces of equipment out of the way and taking delivery of a cherry picker and tower scaffold for use of the installers. That didn’t stop Adrian getting a few instructions on how to operate the cherry picker in order that it could be stowed away safely overnight.

There was a very early start on Thursday, 21st February as the rolling stock on road three had to be removed by 8 o’clock so as not to delay the installation process. Adrian, Mike, John Dixon and Tim duly appeared in good time for this to happen. Diesel shunter Stanlow No. 4 had been moved around to the Ribble Rail shed the previous day in readiness for the early start.

A lindapter being fitted to carry the new safety wireFortunately, despite a short power outage, work progressed steadily during the day. John Dixon and Mike getting on with the housework with the rolling stock out of the wayWith the rolling stock now out of the way, the opportunity was also taken to undertake a thorough clean of the central section of the shed including the pit.

Mike being rigged upMike Rigg volunteered to try on one of the new harnesses and is seen here getting rigged up (geddit?!) with the assistance of Joe Jackson from Trad Safety Systems. Rear view of Mike in his harnessA rear view of Mike shows the correct position, between the shoulder blades, for the metal loop to which the back strap should be attached. The installers finished a little later than planned, but all the rolling stock was back in the shed by 17.30 and Stanlow moved back home to the main running shed.  A full operating instruction for the overhead safety wire system has been written and is available both in the mess room and in the harness storage drawer in the shed filing cabinet.

A new look in the shed with Cumbria and FR 20 over the pitOne side benefit from the upheaval in the shed was the opportunity to re-marshal the rolling stock so that Cumbria and FR 20 could be positioned over the pit to assist maintenance and repairs.

Meanwhile, we have been keeping Matt Jervis busy as he and Keith paid a visit to Embsay last Tuesday to remove three stays from 5643’s firebox backhead for replacement. A further visit is planned shortly to ream and tap out the holes after which new stays will be ordered. Matt has also been involved with the removal of Cumbria‘s regulator valve and ‘J’ pipe. The worn faces on the ‘J’ pipe are a clear indication of the cause of the passing of steam whilst the regulator has supposedly been shut.

With Cumbria now more accessible over the pit, more hours have been spent in removing a build up of oily dirt from the frames, brake rigging and motion. Although there will be more to do in the coming weeks, there has already been a vast improvement in the state of the loco.

Keith cuts up the old tender tank for Wootton HallOutside, Keith has been busy on repairs to the newly acquired tender tank for Wootton Hall and also in cutting up the original which, unfortunately, was well past being repaired. Alan has been loosening nuts with a view to removing FR 20’s valve chest cover and Adrian has been undercoating Caliban‘s frames. Work on Fluff progresses as well.