Monday 18th September 2023

5643's front buffer beam removedThere has been more progress with the dismantling of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T locomotive No. 5643 where the front buffer beam has now been removed.

The cleaned up bufferbeamThis will enable access to the cylinders so that new liners can be fitted. Keith and Fred are seen here with the buffer beam which Fred has been attending to with his cup wire brush to remove old paint and rust.

Andy Booth cutting out the old tubes from 5643's boilerAndy Booth made a start on removing the old tubes from 5643’s boiler on Friday, cutting them from the firebox end first.

The royal coach gang has been turning its attention to some of the smaller but still time-consuming fitting and snagging jobs on Great Eastern Railway No. 5. John Dixon has been re-fitting the brass radiator covers, whilst Sam has wired up the water tank pump in the kitchen which, much to the delight of Phil Bell and John Davis, enabled water to appear through the sink taps. Meanwhile, Anne and Phil Burton have been making mats to go just inside the entry doors of the coach in order to preserve the new carpet. Tim has given the step boards a coat of paint, not easy when people keep climbing in and out of the coach!

Ade transports the newly acquired coupling rod for 4979 to the FRT shedAt long last, the coupling rod that was acquired from the Didcot Railway Centre for GWR 4-6-0 locomotive No. 4979 Wootton Hall was transported to the FRT shed by Ade on Wednesday, having arrived at Preston in the tender of FR 20 last Monday evening.

A reminder here to all members that the Furness Railway Trust’s AGM will be held in the FRT shed at 7.30 pm next Monday, 25th September. Alison has promised to provide some food, so please ensure that there are enough of you to consume it all!

Finally, it seems that YouTube just keeps providing more good footage of Furness Railway No. 20 during its stay at the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway, so you might wish to have a look at this:

Tuesday 12th September 2023

FR 20 on shed alongside the L&NWR Coal TankThe main event this week has been Furness Railway No. 20’s participation in the Blaenavon Heritage Railway’s Autumn Steam Gala this last weekend. Sam Middleton and John Dixon went down to Blaenavon last Wednesday evening in order to prepare FR 20 on Thursday for the steamings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They were joined early Friday afternoon by Tim followed by Ade. Whilst Sam and John headed home on Saturday, Alison and Alan arrived on Saturday evening for the final day of the event.

John Dixon and Ade enjoying a ride on the cushionsSam looked after FR 20 on Friday which enabled the others to have a ride in a 1910 former engineer’s saloon.

Sam inspecting the pile of char which he had to removeSam then dealt with the inevitable pile of char in the smokebox.

With only four locos in steam, FR 20 was busier on the Friday and there is some YouTube footage here of it in action:

There was a very full programme of trains on the Saturday and Sunday with six locomotives in steam: FR 20, L&NWR Coal Tank 0-6-2T No. 1054, Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0ST Keighley Gas Works No. 2, Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0T No. 1857, Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST Rosyth No. 1 and Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST No. 1219 Caledonia Works. There were two passenger train sets plus a coal train to keep the locos busy all day.

Alison with the sales standNeedless to say, Alison spent some time taking some useful sales income on Sunday.

FR 20 on Thunderbird duties, approaching Furnace Sidings stationIt is pleasing to be able to report that FR 20 steamed extremely well all weekend and, late Sunday afternoon, was called upon to rescue a train that was in trouble at Blaenavon High Level. Not surprisingly, a crowd gathered to watch the gallant 160 year old locomotive blast its way up the bank into Furnace Sidings station with the ensemble of two locomotives and three carriages behind it.

4979's rod is loaded once againNeedless to say, it was starting to get dark when Ade, Alan and Tim then set about preparing FR 20 for its journey home, removing guard irons and sand pipes and fitting lugs to the tender that could be used to fasten the loco on to the transporter the following morning. And then there was the loading once again of the coupling rod for Wootton Hall!

Back tucked up in the RSR running shedFortunately, the journey home for everyone and the loco was without incident and Ade was on hand yesterday evening to shunt FR 20 into the running shed at Preston.

Anne and Phil Burton test the chairs in GER No. 5The previous Wednesday at Preston had been spent in moving the stored chairs and tables into Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5. The coach was then moved over the pit to allow inspection and oiling to take place and then into the outer shed to enable 5643 to be re-positioned and its boiler to be moved into the main shed.

GER 5 out in the fresh airGER No. 5 was then moved into the RSR running shed on Saturday and a satisfactory brake test performed using the steam locomotive of the day. The 125 year old vehicle is now scheduled to make an appearance at the RSR’s autumn Steam Gala on the 30th September and the 1st October.

Monday 4th September 2023

A short update this week.

Phil Burton fits new feet to the chairs for GER No. 5With the interior of Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5 almost complete, it has been time to move out of storage the seats and furniture that have been gathered for the coach. Some of the rubber chair leg feet were found to be absent, which had the potential for the new carpet to be damaged. Phil Burton has acquired some new feet and is seen here attending to the matter. Phil Bell and John Dixon made an early start to enable the gas fitter to attend at 08.00 on Friday morning. We are pleased to be able to report that the gas system is now passed ready for service. In anticipation of this, Tim has conducted axle pad exams ready for the coach to be moved further up the shed this Wednesday.

This next weekend will see FR 20 appearing at the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway’s Annual Steam Gala together with visitors L&NWR coal tank No. 1054 and Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0ST Keighley Gas Works No. 2. A number of members are travelling to South Wales this weekend to support FR 20 and also to prepare the loco for transporting back to Preston.