Monday 25th October 2021

The main news this week surrounds Furness Railway No. 20 which, as forecast in last week’s blog, was scheduled to re-enter service on Saturday after its overhaul. The poor weather last Wednesday morning meant that it was sensible to delay the transfer of the loco to the RSR’s running shed until the afternoon. Sam and Alan fit joints to the valve spindle tail rod covers on FR 20, watched by John DixonThis allowed time for Alan and Sam to make and fit new joints for the valve spindle tail rod covers which had been leaking steam during previous running in trials. An adjustment was also made to the right hand crosshead cotter, not easy without a pit and with ballast pressing into your back!

One of the new brake shaft collars on FR 20's tenderJohn Dixon also took the opportunity to fit the four tender brake shaft collars that were made twenty-three years ago and never fitted! Whilst not vital to the running of the loco, it was a case of finishing the job as it was originally designed back in 1863! Can you spot the difference?

FR 20 ready for a warming fire on Friday, 2nd October 2021FR 20 was pulled out of the running shed on Friday morning for John Dixon to light a warming fire, again the rain coming down in torrents at times.

Half a dozen FRT members were up early on Saturday morning to prepare both FR 20 and Bagnall 0-6-0ST Courageous, the latter to be used as back up in view of it being FR 20’s first day in traffic. Tim, Stewart and Jack crewed  FR 20 with Ade and Sam preparing Courageous and Alan riding FR 20 as engineer. It was heartening to see that word had got around that FR 20 was back and the car park was filling nicely. FR 20 in Riverside station with the 11.00 train on Saturday, 23rd OctoberIn short, FR 20 ran all its scheduled five trips with Courageous being added to the rear of the train at 12.00 and onwards after some knocking from the right hand cross head on FR 20 suggested that caution should prevail. The good news is that the new tender white metal bearings appear to be a success with FR 20 rolling freely and with no signs of any unwanted warmth from the axleboxes. Fortunately, the weather played ball with us on Saturday and there were plenty of people travelling and taking photographs, including a gentleman who had travelled all the way from Northampton to see FR 20. All in all, a very pleasant day and a fitting conclusion for all those who had worked so hard on FR 20 during its overhaul.

As ever, though, work has also been proceeding on the FRT’s other projects. Neil Glover cleans the fuel stop valve whilst Ade performs the vital task of stooping the fuel flowing from the tank!Former member Neil Glover appeared on Wednesday to examine the fire pump that the Trust had acquired pre-Covid for the purpose of improving boiler wash out facilities. Neil is seen unblocking the fuel cut off switch whilst Ade has his finger over the open pipe from the fuel tank. Unfortunately, after attaining a flow of fuel, it was wasn’t possible to gain a spark at the spark plugs which Neil put down to a damp magneto. Roger Benbow, who successfully brought Simplex Rachael back to life at Haverthwaite recently, had a look at the pump on Friday and has promised to return with his tool box this week to have a more detailed look at the magneto.

Ed having a knees up under Wootton Hall's boilerWe noted the arrival of Wootton Hall‘s boiler cladding sheets in last week’s blog so it will come as no surprise that Keith has been busy fitting them to the boiler. Ed is seen underneath the boiler, apparently using his knees to keep a cladding sheet in place.

The first boiler cladding sheet on Wootton HallThe first finished right hand sheet can be seen here.

The new wooden packing for Wootton Hall's tenderThe hardwood for the packing between the top of Wootton Hall’s tender frames and the tank has also arrived and RSR’s joiner John Morgan has started to make the dovetail joints.

John Dixon working on the new lock up cage for the FRT's gas bottlesJohn Dixon has been busy with the creation of a new storage cage for the FRT’s gas bottles.

Looking forward, the Ribble Steam Railway’s AGM will take place tomorrow, Tuesday evening, at the Railway’s Museum at 8 pm.

The 175 celebrations banner on Lancaster Station footbridgeAnd the final Furness Railway 175 event will take place at Lancaster station on Wednesday, 3rd November from 10.45 onwards with Live Steam being invited to make an appearance to render some railway songs for the occasion. A banner has been erected on the newly redecorated footbridge at Lancaster station on which the sharp-eyed of you will identify the FRT’s logo amongst the many others who have supported the events over the summer.

Tuesday 19th October 2021

We are running a day late again this week due to diary congestion!

Alan inspecting FR 20There was some test running of FR 20 last Wednesday. Alan is seen here inspecting one of the engine’s axleboxes during preparation.

FR 20 at Riverside during testingOnce the Ribble Rail lads had completed tanker train duties FR 20 was allowed out on to the main line, running up and down within station limits where it managed to accumulate a small amount of mileage and give everyone confidence that it could be used on the RSR’s train service this Saturday, 23rd October. This is now being advertised.

Fluff looking goodBack in the FRT shed, Phil Bell and John Davis are making good progress with Fluff‘s rebuild, even placing the chimney on top to complete the scene.

GER 5's roof during removal of gas chimneys etcThere has been further progress on removing items from the roof of GER Royal Saloon No. 5.

Cleaned up torpedo ventFred came in on Friday and cleaned up one of the torpedo vents – and found the lettering ‘torpedo patent’ on the metalwork, obviously the origin of the name.

Roger cleaning stained woodInside the coach, Roger has been cleaning up some of the woodwork that has been stained by water ingress.

Phil and Annes Bolton working in GER No. 5Anne and Phil Bolton have been making test sample covers for the seat cushions that fit in the east end saloon.

Sam, Keith ,John and 5643 at the ELR's GalaSam, Keith and John were at Bury last Friday for the first day of the East Lancs Railway’s Autumn Steam Gala where 5643’s partnership with visiting Dinmore Manor was apparently well received.

Newly arrived cladding sheets for Wootton HallThe cladding sheets for Wootton Hall’s boiler have now arrived so there will be plenty of work for Keith to do over the next few weeks.

Monday 11th October 2021

FR 20 after passing its steam testWe are back to the normal Monday schedule for the blog and delighted to inform you all that Furness Railway No. 20 passed its formal steam test with the boiler surveyor at lunchtime on Thursday and is once again officially Britain’s oldest operational standard gauge steam locomotive.

Steam was initially raised on Wednesday when the opportunity was taken to clear some of the soot out of the tubes to ensure that there should be no problem in raising steam in time on Thursday. Fortunately, the original time for the test of 08.00 was amended to 11.00, for which we thank our boiler surveyor, Alan Bennett, which allowed us some more time in bed that morning!

John Dixon fits a new pipe retention bracket on FR 20's framesEarly Thursday morning saw John Dixon fastening some newly fabricated brackets to hold the injector delivery pipes to the clack valve in position using existing holes in  the frames – perhaps this had been a feature earlier in the career of the locomotive.

What happened to the pit?Alan then set about replacing a split pin in one of the cotters – one of those deferred jobs that he had meant to do whilst the loco was over the pit!!

Anyhow, by 11.00 FR 20 had reached the blowing off point and, after a final adjustment of the valves, it was ready for the arrival of Alan Bennett. After a thorough inspection of the locomotive, Alan declared it fit and thanked us all for the work that we had done to get it prepared for him. Alan then informed us that this would probably be his last inspection of FR 20 before his intended retirement in December; we wish him a long and happy retirement with his family.

Needless to say, work has also continued on other projects in the shed. John Dixon and Ed have finally managed to remove two of the gas fittings from the roof of GER royal saloon No. 5 whilst Anne and Phil Bolton have found a source which can supply matching replacement moquette for the interior of the coach. Ade has also been busy working on Caliban.

John Davis and Phil Bell wrestle with Fluff's bonnetJohn Davis and Phil have continued their work on re-constructing Fluff’s bonnet.

Keith drilling holes in Wootton Hall's tender water take off tankKeith, having conducted a successful water test on the newly fabricated water take off tank for Wootton Hall‘s tender, has now started drilling holes in it (!!) so that a flanged pipe can be connected.

Finally, the late Derek Milby was at last given a proper send off on Saturday evening at the Ulverston Brewery Company when many of the exhibitors from the annual Barrow Model Railway Exhibition arrived by preserved bus, courtesy of the Barrow Transport Group. They were joined by members of the FRT and Derek’s two brothers, Don and Ken. An enlarged and re-united Live Steam provided the music and all agreed that it had been an occasion of which Derek would have approved. (Even Derek hadn’t managed to arrange a party in a brewery!) We can reveal that all attempts to drink the brewery dry failed despite some valiant efforts by some. The Live Steam photo shows Gary Weldon, Nigel Harris, Tim Owen, Alan Middleton and Pete Skellon. Pete’s brother, Geoff, also gave assistance with the bodhran.

Tuesday 5th October

Thanks go to everyone who attended the Annual General Meeting in the Furness Railway Trust shed last Tuesday evening. It was good to see an attendance of 20, despite the petrol and diesel shortage at the time. Thanks also go to Alison who provided the sandwiches and cakes, which no doubt provided an incentive to attend, as did the opportunity for members to explore the shed and view progress on projects.

Ed removes one of the interior light fittings from GER No. 5With GER Royal Saloon No. 5 now installed in the main part of the shed, work was restarted on Wednesday on the overhaul that was brought to a halt when it was necessary to commence FR 20’s own overhaul three years ago. Ed volunteered to go on the roof to remove fittings so that the roof can be re-canvassed. Ron Crowe assisted by working on the rain strips which could be accessed by the hydraulic platform at the side. The former gas fittings on the roof, which have since been converted to electric, posed a problem as they refused to budge, either up or down, despite Ed removing part the interior ceiling fittings. Fortunately, it was possible to remove the first of the torpedo air vents and conduit.

Anne and Phil Bolton working on the upholstery in GER No. 5New members Anne and Phil Bolton started an examination of the very tired interior upholstery with a view to replacing it with some suitable material in the future.

Alan repairing a joint on FR 20's right hand injector steam pipeDuring FR 20’s initial steam tests, a pinhole was found in a flange joint on the right hand injector steam pipe. Once dismantled, Alan set about rectifying the problem.

Sam and Alan replace the repaired injector steam pipe on FR 20He and Sam then refitted the pipe in readiness for the formal steam test with the boiler surveyor which is due to take place early Thursday morning.

Finally, a reminder that this year’s Furness Model Railway Club Exhibition will be taking place on Saturday and Sunday, 9th and 10th October, at Walney School on Sandy Gap Lane, Walney, 10 am to 5 pm both days. A gathering in memory of Derek Milby will be held at the Ulverston Brewery Company on Saturday evening. Live Steam will be re-uniting, post Covid, to provide some music. Numbers are limited but please contact Tim Owen if you wish to attend and haven’t already made arrangements to do so.