Monday 18th December 2023

Keith looks on as Adam Wright inspects 5643's boilerOur boiler surveyor, Adam Wright, visited the FRT shed at Preston on Friday to inspect the boilers of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643 and Peckett 0-4-0ST Caliban. There was good news and bad news with the verdict on 5643 being pretty positive. It had already been planned to renew the 5/8” boiler stays, which was agreed with Adam along with some protective surface welding of the front tubeplate and a few sections of the boiler barrel. Adam is seen above inspecting the interior of the firebox through one of the large mudholes.

Unfortunately, the platework on Caliban’s inner firebox was deemed to be too thin to allow a ten year boiler certificate to be issued and the options for a new inner firebox will now be investigated.

Fortunately, this news didn’t spoil the FRT’s annual Christmas dinner that evening at the Ribble Pilot pub alongside Preston’s Dock. Our thanks go to Alison for organising it.

John Dixon paints one of the suction hose hangersElsewhere, John Dixon has been catching up with a couple of jobs. Firstly, he has been preparing some steel hangers for the fire pump suction pipes, which should help to keep them safe and away from potential damage.

John Dixon attending to heat damage on FR20's wooden boxSecondly, John has been attending to the wooden box which sits on FR 20’s running plate alongside the right hand smokebox. The box had sustained some heat damage whilst the locomotive was running up the steep gradients at Blaenavon, which is now being rectified. For similar reasons, Tim has now completed the re-painting of the smokebox door and the right hand side of the smokebox.

Sam cleaning the inside of one of 5643's wheels.The lifting of 5643’s frames has allowed access for cleaning the back of the wheels. Sam is seen here busy cleaning one of the wheels.

Alan is wheeled away from one of the Santa Specials by AlisonTim and Alan had hoped for some relief from the playing of Christmas songs on the RSR’s Santa Specials through the offer of help from Graham and Bernadette Dixon. Unfortunately, both Graham and Bernadette both went down with ‘flu after the second weekend and so Tim and Alan had to complete the final weekend on their own. Alan is seen here being wheeled away for recovery by Alison after performing on the second train on Sunday.

Sam on top of Courageous's' cab after the last train on Sunday, 17th DecemberFinally, Sam (pictured right) had his first firing turn on a Santa Special and is seen here with the rest of the crew waiting for a group photo to be taken.

With both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day taking place on Mondays, it has been decided to continue with the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday format for working parties over the Christmas and New Year period – so no let up there!

We leave you this week with very best wishes to all our readers for a great Christmas and New Year. (No, there won’t be a blog next Monday!!) A reminder here that, folk group Live Steam will be playing at the Engine Inn, Cark-in-Cartmel, on New Year’s Eve.

Tuesday 12th December 2023

As we head towards the end of yet another year, members at Preston have
continued to catch up with a number of jobs, mainly on the small side this

AW & Co clearly marked on 5643's radial truckThe cast frame for Great Western Railway 0-6-2T 5643’s radial truck
has been cleaned and painted. Both axleboxes are marked with 66XX
numbers whilst the casting was clearly manufactured by Armstrong
Whitworth of Newcastle upon Tyne, who built the last 50 of the 56/66XX
classes, 6650 to 6699.

Phil Burton sanding a donated chairThe Trust has been donated a number of chairs for Great Eastern Railway
royal saloon No. 5 which Phil Burton has been sanding down.

This next Friday is an important date in the calendar as our boiler surveyor is
coming to Preston at 8am to inspect the boilers of 5643 and Peckett 0-4-0ST
Caliban. There will be discussions as to the extent of the work required during
the overhaul of each of the boilers. 15 members are then due to sit down that evening for the annual FRT Christmas dinner.

Talking of Christmas, the Ribble Steam Railway’s Santa Specials have been
running fully booked and a further five trains are due to operate next Saturday
and Sunday. Alan and Tim, who have previously provided all the Christmas
music on board the trains, have this year been joined by Graham and
Bernadette Dixon, which has lightened the load considerably.

Monday 4th December 2023

Spotless axlebox and keepIt has been another week of steady progress with the overhaul of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643. There has been some fastidious cleaning of components taking place as can be seen by this photo of one of the axlebox bearings and keep.

Fred cleaning 5643's radial wheelsFred has been concentrating on cleaning the radial wheels before they are sent away for re-profiling.

Finally, as we head towards the close of the year, Alan Middleton has been putting the final touches to the next edition of The Iron Horse, which is now with our printer. All being well this should be out before Christmas.