Tuesday 29th August 2023

FR 20 at Furnace Sidings after having hauled a well filled train up from Blaenarvon on Saturday, 26th AugustThe Bank Holiday weekend saw Furness Railway No. 20 successfully return to service at the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway in time for that railway’s 40th Anniversary Celebrations.

FR 20 takes a rest whilst Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST Rosyth No. 1 heads to Whistle Inn HaltFR 20 successfully completed four return trips along the length of the main line on Saturday, Sunday and Monday with Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST Rosyth No. 1 working from Big Pit to Whistle Inn Halt with a Mark 1 TSO coach and a brake van; the latter replicated the opening day train formation in 1983.

Fortunately the rain held off, apart from a few showers, and the two coach trains were well filled with passengers. The first train on Saturday morning was standing room only. Some video of the weekend can be seen here:

FR 20's smokebox well filled with char at the end of Saturday, 26th AugustThe hard work work hauing the coaches up the incline from Blaenavon resulted in the smokebox and its door losing some of its paint. Opening the smokebox door found a deep pile of char that filled four wheelbarrows!

Phil Burton polishing GER No. 5's vacuum gauge.Back at Preston, last Friday saw an action plan being agreed with our qualified gas fitter for piping gas into the kitchen of Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5. Phil Bell will take this forward. The banquet chairs have been brought out of storage for cleaning and some TLC, whilst Phil and Anne Burton have been devoting some time to giving the vacuum gauge a good polish.

John Dixon repairing one of the radiator coversJohn Dixon is seen repairing one of the brass radiator covers from GER No. 5

Work has also continued on GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643 where Sam and Keith have been removing the braking rigging. A shunt of the shed is expected tomorrow (Wednesday) to swap the positions of 5643 and GER No. 5.

Monday 21st August 2023

FR 20's test run approaching Whistle Inn HaltWe start this week’s blog with the very good news that Furness Railway No. 20 underwent a successful test run yesterday on the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway following repairs to its right-hand front cylinder cover, piston and motion. Alan, Andrew and Sam Middleton made the journey down to Blaenavon to help prepare the loco and to witness the test. The above photo shows a spotless FR 20 approaching Whistle Inn Halt at the top of the line.

Footplate view of FR 20 on the test runThe second footplate view is of the loco descending back to Furnace Sidings with Alan centre. FR 20 is now scheduled to operate at the P&BR’s 40th Birthday Celebrations this next weekend on the 26th, 27th and 28th August. It is also due to appear alongside L&NWR Coal Tank 0-6-2T No. 1054 at the Gala on the 8th, 9th and 10th September. Our thanks go to Ryan Pope and the people at the West Somerset Railway who have arranged the repairs.

And while we’re talking about FR 20, we should point out that this very day marks the old girl’s 160th birthday!  Happy Birthday!

GER No 5 large saloon with carpetBack at Preston there is more good news in that the new carpet was laid in Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5 last Friday. GER No 5 small saloon with carpetThe photos show the carpet in the two saloons. As you would expect, it makes a big difference to the vehicle.

John Davis upholstering the last door on GER No 5The previous Wednesday, Anne and Phil Burton had completed the reupholstery of the guard’s compartment and John Davis has completed the upholstery on the last door. There are, however, still quite a few jobs to complete, including the kitchen where our gas fitter is due to attend on Friday.

Jon Dixon working on 5643Finally, work has also continued on the overhaul of GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643 where Jon Dixon is seen suitably togged up whilst removing old paint and rust from the frames.

Monday 14th August 2023

It’s a case of never mind the width, feel the quality this week!?! So just a short
update with a couple of pieces of good news.

A view of FR 20 after repair. Just a bit of touching up of the black paint required!Firstly, Furness Railway No. 20 has been re-assembled after repairs to its
right-hand piston head, cylinder cover and crossheads. An in-steam test to
check that all is now well is due to take place on the Pontypool & Blaenavon
Railway this Sunday. Sam and Alan have kindly volunteered to make the
journey down to South Wales for the occasion.

The chaise longue ready for passengersSecondly, at long last and after some struggles and enforced learning, the
repairs and re-upholstering of the chaise longue in the east saloon of Great
Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5 have been completed. It should be
emphasised that this has been done entirely in house, so well done to all
concerned. John Dixon has, as can be seen from the photo, also completed the
job of covering of the east saloon floor with plywood, ready for the new carpet
to be laid.

Monday 7th August 2023

FR 20's piston heads, rods and cotters all made upWe are pleased to report that work on the repairs to FR 20’s motion has been progressing well at Williton, courtesy of West Somerset Restoration, following the fusion welding of the right-hand piston head and cylinder cover. The piston head has now been reunited with the piston rod and both cross head cotters fitted after the necessary machining. It is planned to reassemble the motion on FR 20 at Blaenavon this Wednesday after which the locomotive will undergo an in-steam test.

Jonathan Dixon working in 5643's framesBack at Preston work has been progressing steadily on the overhaul of Great Western 0-6-2T No. 5643. We were pleased to be joined by Jonathan Dixon who was given the task of cleaning down part of the frames.

5643's frames being cleaned and paintedJon has not been the only member working on this task and the results so far can be seen above.

Fred cleaning the vacuum reservoir from 5643Following the issue of a new cup wire brush to Fred last week, he has been making best use of it by removing old paint and rust from the reservoir on 5643’s vacuum brake system.

Bob Thomson working on 5643's regulatorBob Thomson has continued his work on 5643’s regulator valve.

Keith removing stubborn nuts from one of 5643's spring hangersKeith is seen here removing some stubborn nuts from one of 5643’ radial spring hangers.

Finally, work hasn’t stopped on Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5. Alison has now managed to make contact with the carpet supplier and we hope to see the carpet fitted shortly.