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. This 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!
John 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 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. In 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. 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.
We 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 finished right hand sheet can be seen here.
The 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 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.
And 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.