Monday 22nd May 2023

Alan, Alison and Tim have returned today from a rather too eventful weekend at the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway. Unfortunately, there isn’t time this evening to tell the full tale, which will no doubt be recounted in the next edition of the Trust’s journal, The Iron Horse.

A very shiny FR 20 being steamed on FridayLast Friday saw the FRT, team, bolstered on the day by Sam who had driven down from Preston and arrived at 08.00, join the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway’s own people in preparing Furness Railway No. 20 for a test steaming and a trip down the line in readiness for the three scheduled return trips on Saturday and Sunday.  We were immediately made welcome and tea served, a good start to the day, and that hospitality endured over the weekend. We have to compliment the P&B Loco department on its superb efforts to make FR 20 shine from top to bottom, something very much appreciated by the passengers the following day.

FR 20 heading down the valley with its trainThe test run revealed that the nine days of steamings at Didcot had made the boiler water incompatible with opening the regulator wide, the chalky water causing the loco to prime.

FR 20 and train approaching Furnace Sidings StationA change of water then ensued before the following day’s steamings.

Saturday’s trips were going well until the final one, when the right hand crosshead cotter sheared, which caused the piston to over-travel and damage the front cylinder cover. This brought the train to a halt with no further progress possible.  Fortunately, the train was near to Furnace Sidings station and the passengers were safely detrained. It was then necessary to tie up the crosshead and remove the cylinder cover before carriages and locomotive could be moved safely, and without further damage, to their respective sheds.

Obviously, this failure was a huge disappointment to everyone, and another locomotive had to be steamed for traffic the following day.

The pieces that had broken off the cylinder coverSunday was spent further examining FR 20 and preparing it for a return journey back to Preston to repairs. However, the FRT has this morning received the kind offer of assistance from the West Somerset Railway’s mechanical engineering department, which has a good relationship with the P&BR. A further examination of FR 20 will therefore take place on Wednesday including some non-destructive testing of components, after which it is hoped to be able to put together a plan of action for repairs. We will keep our readers informed as to progress.

In the mean time we wish to thank everyone at the P&BR for their friendship and assistance over the weekend.

We leave you on a lighter note with the news that when Alison placed an order on Friday evening for two sweets (for herself and Tim) at the Brewer’s Fayre Inn at Llanfoist, three turned up. Alison with two portions - will I make it??Luckily, Alan was delighted to help out in solving the dilemma!  Assistance rendered!

Tuesday 16th May 2023

With a busy weekend with FR 20 at Blaenavon approaching, there is just time to squeeze in a short blog, albeit a day late again!

5643's superheater header is carefully eased out of the smokeboxWork has continued apace in the FRT shed at Preston on dismantling GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643 and cleaning its components. The superheater header was removed last Wednesday.

Ron Crowe cleaning one of 5643's steam pipesRon Crowe is seen cleaning up one of the steam pipes.

Shiny cupboard doors in GER No. 5There has also been progress with the restoration of Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5 with the kitchen starting to look ready for business. Both work tops have been installed and the kitchen cupboards given their final coat of varnish.

New sinks and tap installed in GER No. 5's kitchenThe sinks and Phil’s new tap have been installed.

Keith wires up the new water tank for GER 5 for Phil to testWe now need to install some running water. Phil is seen testing the new water tank with assistance from Keith.

Tuesday 9th May 2023

With disruption caused by two Bank Holidays and a visit to Didcot to fit in, the blog has lost its regularity. Apologies, but here is a summary of the latest happenings.

FR 20 running at Didcot with two later period GWR coachesFurness Railway No. 20 successfully completed the last of its nine steamings at Didcot on Monday, 1st May. For this weekend it was paired with two Great Western Railway coaches of a more modern vintage than previously.

Loading 4979's coupling rodJohn Dixon and Sam joined Tim on the 1st May to prepare FR 20 for its forward movement to the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway. This included loading the coupling rod that had been acquired for No. 4979 Wootton Hall.

Sam with the new rod in the tenderSam then received it in the tender.

Caliban's cab being lowered onto the framesBack at Preston, last Wednesday saw Caliban’s cab being fitted onto the frames courtesy of Ribble Rail’s recently acquired Road Rail Vehicle (RRV).

5643's cab roof being removedOnce this had been achieved, it was time to remove 5643’s cab roof.

5643's right hand tank being removedAnd then the tanks.

Keith cleaning previously inaccessible areasBack in the FRT shed, with the tanks removed, Keith has been cleaning oil and grease which is now accessible.

Sam cleaning the firebox top claddingSam has been cleaning the firebox top cladding.

Ron Crowe polishing the injector pipeworkAnd Ron Crowe has been polishing the injector pipework.