Monday 10th April 2017

We are sorry to have to start this blog with the news that long-time member, Bill Ashcroft, died last Thursday morning at the age of 82. We understand that Bill had just completed a course of chemotherapy the previous day following a diagnosis of lung cancer at the beginning of the year. He was certainly one of life’s characters and was involved at Haverthwaite in the early days, although an inability to drive through a medical condition resulted in a scaling down of his involvement. Bill then joined the support crew for the late Paddy Smith’s LMS liveried Black Five No. 5407 before transferring to the “dark side” of bus preservation, acquiring John Fishwick & Sons’ Leyland half cab double decker No. 10 which he restored. He latterly became involved with the restoration of a Leyland Lion. Bill took many railway photographs which recorded the end of steam and have been sort after by railway periodicals. He recalled to us how, when working at County Hall at Preston, he would nip off to the toilets, which held a prime viewing position overlooking the entrance to Preston station, in order to take photographs of passing steam traffic. More recently, Bill started to make frequent appearances at the FRT’s new shed at Preston and we will miss his cheerful voice recalling old times. Our condolences go to Bill’s wife, Ruth, and his family.

Work has continued at Preston this last week, although there was a pause in operations on Wednesday in order to observe sand blasting demonstration which had been arranged with a view to the RSR and FRT joining forces to buy some new equipment. The demo sand blastWho are they trying not to listen to?The onlookers can be seen here along with a photo of the sand blaster attacking the frames of Wootton Hall‘s tender. The demo showed that the compressor would need some attention before it could be used for sand blasting.

John preparing one of the lighting connector pattresses for fittingJohn has been busy re-fitting items on the RMB and can be seen here preparing one of the lighting cable pattresses. Mike has been back working in the toilets and Tim has varnished the east corridor end of the coach.

John and Alan contemplating workAlan and John H, seen here contemplating their next move, have been working on Caliban‘s running board and Adrian has removed some further scale and rust from the frames. Keith and David have been filling the scrap metal skip with scrap tubes and components from Wootton Hall.

George reports that work is proceeding at Shackerstone on Cumbria‘s big ends and a new clack valve. The loco should be back in traffic the weekend after Easter, subject to a satisfactory steam test.

Live Steam in actionOur folk band Live Steam had a busy Saturday evening at a private 70th birthday party at Out Rawcliffe village hall, which seemed to be successful. A victim for the zob stickTim reprised his tuition of the zob stick to an unsuspecting female from the audience.

Last call here for the final Preston Branch meeting of this season which will take place at 8 pm tomorrow, Tuesday evening, 11th April, at The Ale Emporium, Preston. Archive steam video will be screened.

Monday 3rd April 2017

John's adjusted pipeworkWith Mike and Paul away on holiday it was left to John and Tim to continue with the work on the RMB. John discovered that, when lettering the west end of the RMB, Tim hadn’t left much room for the re-installation of the vacuum pipe that connects to the communication cord valve. That meant either re-lettering the end of the RMB or John making some adjustments to the pipe which, as a true gentleman, he did! Phew! The repair on the heater coil is inspectedJohn also removed and repaired one of the toilet heater coils, which he is seen here inspecting. Meanwhile, at the other end of the RMB, Tim undercoated and then gloss coated the east end. Lettering and varnishing are still required when there is a break in the dust.

After hearing that we had made good use of the shelves that he had donated to the Trust, Michael Cook kindly arranged for the delivery of another set, which David promptly erected on Saturday. Thank you Michael – very much appreciated.

Adrian continued his assault on Caliban‘s frames with the needle gun and cup wire brush on Wednesday. The new piece of Caliban's running board in situThe new piece of running board, having received two coats of primer and undercoat underneath, was mounted on top of the frames. Alan then went on to remove another piece of plate.

George appeared on Friday and worked with Keith to place some of Wootton Hall‘s scrap metal in the newly provided waste skip outside the shed. Fred cleaning up Wootton Hall's vacuum reservoirFred cleaned up Wootton Hall‘s vacuum reservoir whilst Roger primed Caliban‘s wheels.

The task of procuring new components for the Trust can have unexpected repercussions. We’ve previously had Alan arriving home to find FR 20’s new cab spectacle plate outside his home in Blackpool, or David having to inform the driver of an articulated lorry that was trying to access his suburban road in Huyton that his delivery had been arranged to go to Appleby, not Huyton. So, this week we have the good news that the newly cast ejector ring for 5643 has now been delivered – the bad news is that the pallet load needs to be humped into the back of Tim’s estate car at Cark to be moved on down to Preston! Mrs O thought that it was all rather funny until she realised that she would need to give a hand with the lift!

Whitehead and the Grant Richie take water on Sunday during the RSR's Steam galaThe RSR’s Steam Gala over last weekend was well patronised and saw the guest appearance of Peckett 0-4-0ST No. 1163 Whitehead from the Midland Railway Centre. Keith, Alan and Tim were in action on the locomotives, whilst Alison made some useful money with the sales stand and young Matthew provided some useful assistance to the Family Focus Group in the museum.

This next Saturday sees our fund-raising folk band Live Steam in action at Out Rawcliffe Village Hall in the wilds of North Fylde. Will they ever make it to the Albert Hall?! Another practice is being held at Cark on Wednesday evening, although it maybe preceded by a weight lifting session (see above).

Finally another reminder that the final Preston Branch meeting of this season will take place at 8 pm on Tuesday evening, 11th April, at The Ale Emporium, Preston. Archive steam video will be screened.

Monday 27th March 2017

John sandingIt was a quieter day at Preston on Wednesday with Alan braving the snow to go to Shildon once the snow gates on the A66 had been lifted. Tim was also away which left John working away sanding gangway metalwork at the east end of the RMB whilst Mike continued the reassembly of the toilets. The newly erected shelvesDavid has now finished the assembly of the new shelving in the first class North London Railway coach body and he and Tim spent some time on Saturday stacking paint cans and other C&W consumables from the interior of the RMB.

Adrian at workHowever, Adrian broke the silence in the shed with the needlegun around Caliban‘s valve chest. One of Caliban's new lubrication pots on its new standHoward is still busy with Caliban‘s new lubrication boxes, making stands for them, and happy that his precious knife and fork survived the fall of the North London Carriage door on his tool box last week, which didn’t fare as well.

More work for Fred and RogerKeith has been removing more platework and also the vacuum reservoir from Wootton Hall in readiness for Fred and Roger to clean and apply primer paint. Last week's output from FredLast week’s output from Fred is seen here.

Alan and Alison had good weather up at Shildon over the weekend and Alan and Tim were successfully re-assessed for driving there on Thursday and Friday. Alan on the footplate with fellow Shildon volunteer Terry Newman during assessmentsTim and Martin in the brake van during driver assessmentsAlan is seen here on the footplate on Thursday whilst Tim is seen acting as guard with Martin Clark on Friday whilst Anthony Coulls is assessed.

Guest locomotive for the RSR Diesel GalaThe Ribble Steam Railway’s Diesel gala took place over last Saturday and Sunday and the photo of visiting Colas locomotive 60047 shows it outside the RSR running shed during the driver’s lunch break on Saturday. This next weekend will see the RSR’s Steam Gala with four engines in steam, which will keep Keith, Alan and Tim busy.

A first reminder here that the final Preston Branch meeting of this season will take place at 8 pm on Tuesday evening, 11th April, at The Ale Emporium, Preston. No doubt more steamy videos to watch.

Monday 20th March 2017

This week we start by reporting the passing of our 110 volt Makita hand drill, which was purchased as long ago at 2001. Sixteen years of hard use can’t be bad and, after some discussion about the characteristics required of its successor,  it has been replaced by a new, slightly more powerful, Makita drill which arrived on Friday. We look forward to another sixteen years of productive use…..

Ready for paintingThe seemingly never ending work on the RMB continued again this week. John has just about finished his endeavours at the east end of the coach and it is seen here ready for the final coats of paint – the view rather belies the amount of work that John has put in to bring the metalwork back up to standard. John is aiming to get around to the west end next week in order to re-instate the passenger operated brake mechanism, otherwise known as the communication cord. This will enable the panelling on the south side toilet to be completed after the communication cord has been permanently re-attached to the frame of the coach. Mike contemplatingMike Rigg has been busy completing the re-installation of fittings in the north side toilet and can be seen here contemplating his next move. Paul cleans the toilet doorPaul is seen cleaning the door ready for fitting.

The new shelving on the 1st Class NLR coach bodyWith a need to start emptying the RMB, which has acted as a store in recent years, David has been erecting the shelving, kindly donated by Michael Cook, in the first class North London Railway coach body. It is seen here in partially constructed condition. David has now finished the job and some of the equipment has already been moved over. However, at Adrian’s suggestion, David took it upon himself to clean the windows of our new store so that we can see our way around only to find that most of the muck removed was Adrian’s dust! Just need now to replace the exterior door which fell off on Saturday..

Adrian continues to create that cloud of dust above Caliban as he cleans up the frames with both needle gun and cup wire brush. Alan at work with a paint brushAlan is seen here with paint brush in hand putting red oxide on what will be the underside of the new piece of Caliban‘s running board after having received tips of the trade on painting from none other than Adrian! Some grey undercoat was subsequently applied on Friday by the C&W team.

Work has also continued on Wootton Hall where some of the firebox back head cladding has been attached in order to mount some of the fittings temporarily on a test basis. Keith removing the front platework on Wootton HallThe front platework on Wootton Hall removedKeith has also removed some of the engine’s platework adjacent to the front bufferbeam so that it can be cleaned up and painted. Fred at work cleaning up the plateworkFred took on the challenge of wire brushing the plate on Friday and can be seen at work here.

This next weekend sees the opening event in the RSR’s operating calendar with the Diesel Gala on the 25th and 26th. A Colas locomotive is due to attend on the Saturday.

Over the Pennines, Alan will be looking after FR 20 during four days of steaming, starting on Thursday for two days of driver assessments (Tim also attending Friday) and then two days in traffic.

Monday 13th March 2017

Ballast being dropped on road fourRoad four in the unheated area of the new shed received ballast up to the top of the sleepers, as can be seen in this photo where Keith is watching Phil Preston operate the hydraulic grab on the RSR TRAM. The day when we will be concreting (or the ‘C’ word as John termed it last week) again draws ever closer.

John has been busying himself completing floor repairs at the east end of the RMB and Tim has applied a first coat of primer over the recently completed body repairs around the corridor connection. Toilet taking shapeMike Rigg has almost completed the re-installation of panelling in the first of the RMB toilets. A clear out of the vast amount of paraphernalia in the RMB – some useful and some for the skip – has started and David Rimmer is clearing a space in the first class North London Railway coach body to accommodate the useful items. Michael Cook kindly donated some shelving a little while ago and it is planned to erect this in the coming week or so.

Paul and the paint cupboardIn addition, Paul Newton is breathing new life into the old RSR paint cupboard in readiness to receive the paint cans that are currently stored in the RMB.

Elsewhere, Adrian has been making more dust (Wednesday) on cleaning up Caliban‘s frames followed by Fred on Friday. Alan was also busy on the project on Wednesday, when we had a visitation from long term member, Neil Glover.

Wootton Hall's water collection chamberKeith has also been busy with the new water collection chamber which will eventually be fastened under the new tender tank for Wootton Hall, when commissioned. As can be seen from the photo, it is now getting to the paint stage.

Monday 6th March 2017

Paul and Mike cleaning brass carriage grab handlesMike and Tim finished cleaning the windows on the RMB last Wednesday and Mike and Paul are seen here making a start on cleaning up the brass handles ready for fitting. The new letter 'B'Paul has also been filing the new letter B for the gas compartment cover. Re-assembling the inside of the RMBThe temporary absence of Tom and Trevor has been felt in that it is now time to re-assemble the internal panelling and Mike started the work by cleaning down the various components in the south side toilet – not a job to be relished. He is seen here re-installing a pelmet for one of the saloon compartment doors.

The dust curfew is definitely over, with Adrian creating both noise and dust with the needle gun and cup wire brush on Wednesday as he worked on Caliban‘s frames. Adrian has also recently celebrated a birthday and duly arranged for Alison to bake some cakes to share on Wednesday – this run of birthday cakes isn’t doing productivity in the afternoon any good! Drilling holes in the new piece of Caliban's running boardAlan continued to drill holes in the new piece of running board. We refrained from including yet more photos of Fred and Roger at work on Caliban‘s wheels although it can be reported that they have recently changed sides!

The new lubrication valves fitted on the smokebox of Wootton HallThe newly acquired lubrication valves for Wootton Hall have now been fitted in position on the smokebox. This view of the right hand side shows the sole regulator lubrication valve above one of the two cylinder lubrication valves -the other being fitted to the left hand side of the smokebox.

Keith reports to us that the track on road four of the unheated part of the shed has now been levelled and awaits some more ballast and crush and run filling in readiness for concreting. There may still be a need to level some of the track on road three, so there is a potential stay of execution before we all have to start wheeling heavy wheelbarrows of concrete around the shed.

News from The Battlefield Line is that Cumbria is expected to undergo its annual cold exam for the boiler surveyor next week. One of the clacks is being refurbished and the big ends are being taken down for white metalling before it goes back into service at Easter.

Latest local transport news – for those wanting to travel to the FRT’s home at the Ribble Steam Railway from Preston station and wishing to forego the ten minutes walk from McDonalds, there is good news in that there is now almost an hourly 75/75A service from the station, commencing at 07.10, then 09.25 and 25 minutes past the hour until it starts to vary at 16.31, Mondays to Fridays. On Saturdays it is 07.25, 09.25 and then 25 minutes past the hour until 17.40.


Monday 27th February 2017

Work continues apace on the current projects at Preston.

Mike cleans one of the RMB's windowsBoth Wednesday and Friday saw efforts made to bring the RMB’s windows up to serviceable standard, with Tim, Mike (see above) and Paul brandishing scrapers and cleaning rags to get rid of paint and ingrained dirt.

John has been working on the final repairs to the steelwork at the north east end of the RMB, with the final sheet of new steel being positioned: John positions the final piece of steelwork on the RMB… and the finished welded job:The steelwork welded into placeSo So plenty of work for Tim next Wednesday with the filler and sander to remove all traces of the repair.

The successful mouldPaul and Mike have had a second attempt at creating a plaster of Paris mould for the plate to go on the new gas compartment door on the RMB. This time they were successful, and the next job is to use some casting resin to create the plate itself. Meanwhile, Paul has been creating a new letter ‘B’ to go on the door, and is seen here removing some of the waste metal with the aid of a pillar drill:Paul at work on the letter 'B'

Adrian has continued his paint treatment of Caliban‘s inner frames whilst Alan has been drilling more holes in the replacement steel for Caliban’s running board. The machined lubrication box for CalibanHoward has been making progress with one of the new lubrication boxes, with the machined casting seen here.Fred at work on Caliban's wheelsRoger still chipping away at Caliban's spokesFred and Roger have again been hard at work on the wheels – this week’s photos look very much like last week’s – did they ever go home? Alison's baking being enjoyed on Wednesday afternoonAlan, incidentally, brought in birthday cakes for everyone on Wednesday, and some of the gang can be seen seated around the table enjoying the results of Alison’s baking.

Keith holds one of Wootton Hall's new cylinder lubrication valvesKeith continues to gather together components for Wootton Hall, including the new cylinder lubrication valves seen here. Meanwhile George has again been working on the old tubes.

The Fluff gang continue with cleaning up components on the diminutive diesel and look forward to the day when they can get the engine removed.

Finally, our folk band Live Steam has its first practice of the year scheduled for tomorrow evening, Tuesday, in anticipation of a gig at Staining on the 8th April for a birthday party.

Monday 20th February 2017

More new plate required on the RMBJohn grinding down weldWith the RMB successfully varnished last Monday, work on the east corridor end has resumed in earnest with John tackling the repairs on the north east corner and Tim applying filler and sander to the south west corner. Most of the door frames are now painted and protective masking tape has been removed from door handles ready for them to be polished. Now that the surrounding paint has had chance to harden, work on cleaning the windows, both inside and outside, is expected to commence in earnest this next week.

Howard cleaning up a lubrication pot lidHoward has been preparing newly cast brass lubrication pots for use on Caliban. Adrian getting through lots of red paintThe dust curfew in the shed had to be unexpectedly maintained on Wednesday as Adrian had plans to paint the inside of Caliban‘s frames under the cab. An inspection on Friday revealed that Adrian had managed to put a liberal amount on the shed and pit floors and also the one of the pit boards! Fred making the dust fly againRoger chipping away at a spokeFred broke the dust curfew on Friday, cleaning up Caliban‘s wheels, whilst Roger continued his painstaking task of chipping paint from the wheel spokes.

Alan had the day off on Wednesday to recover from toothache and to prepare for his first weekend of the year at Locomotion, Shildon, where FR 20 was back in service. Alan celebrated his birthday on Friday preparing the loco and giving it a whirl on the new section of running line to the east of the platform, which has just been brought into use – video is available via our Facebook site and a photo is shown here with FR 20 alongside more modern traction, whose days are now numbered!FR 20 on the new east running line at Locomotion 190217 All went well over the weekend and Alison made some useful sales income as well as receiving some donated items from the Friends of the NRM’s north east branch – well done, and thanks also to the Friends!

This last weekend also saw another Wootton Hall working party as work progresses on its restoration.

Sunday 12th February 2017

The blog has been written a day early this week as a busy Monday awaits!

Firstly, we need to wish Keith a Happy Birthday for Monday. Keith is taking the day off, but the Preston Branch meeting on Tuesday evening (8 pm at The Ale Emporium, Fylde Road, Preston) will give you the opportunity to pass on your birthday wishes!

The new track completedThe trackwork out the shed has now been pronounced “complete”, with everything in place and ballasted. Again, well done to all concerned for completing this within a relatively short timescale and in some pretty cold weather at times.

Inside the shed, the lining and lettering on the RMB has now been completed and – in a late addition to this week’s blog – has now been varnished too. The RMB in varnishThe lack of dust from other projects in the shed whilst the RMB has been painted has been very much appreciated, but normal services can be resumed from Wednesday. More new platework on the RMBJohn has again been busy completing repairs to the bodywork and floor at the east end of the coach, and the paintwork here will be undertaken once the work has finished. Paul paints the last bogie side on the RMBPaul appeared on Friday and is seen here painting the side of one of the bogies in gloss black. It has to be reported, though, that the project to create a new plate for the side of the gas storage door suffered a setback for, when Paul removed the plaster of Paris mould, it was found that some of the lettering was unclear – perhaps the mould had been left in place for too long. Another attempt will be made when some proper release agent has been acquired.

Caliban's frames go pinkWork has continued apace on Caliban, with Adrian using the dust curfew to paint the frames with a fetching shade of pink undercoat. Likewise, Fred and Roger have been sorting out components in a dust free manner, and Alan has been drilling holes in a new section of running board.Alan drills holes in new running board for Caliban

Keith has been busy re-fixing the loose valve head on 5643 before heading over to Embsay with George yesterday to undertake some more winter maintenance on the loco.

Alan and Sam working on FR20Looking forward to next weekend, Furness Railway No. 20 is back in steam at Locomotion, Shildon, and Alan and Sam (seen here under FR 20) paid a flying visit there on Friday to prepare the loco with the assistance of Brian Goodfellow. He will no doubt be glad to see that the weather for the end of the week is forecast to warm up a little.

Monday 6th February 2017

Monday, 6th February 2017

The RMB changing colourMore paint has been added to the sides of the RMB this week as work has moved on to applying a gloss finish. A final coat of varnish will be added by John and Tim, hopefully next Monday.

Paul prepares the gas door plate prior to making a mouldMike and Paul, meanwhile, have been working on creating a sign for the RMB’s new gas door cover. This has involved delving back into likes of old Blue Peter annuals to re-discover the joys of using plaster of Paris to create a mould from the other door cover from which a new sign can be cast. We see here Paul preparing the existing sign with a release agent. News of success or failure on this particular project will be brought to you in future blogs!

The new parts washerWith a temporary dust ban in place in the shed this week, we were again spared the noise of the needle gun as Adrian resorted to using a paint brush instead. Alan and John were engaged in the dust-free project of assembling a new parts washer, which has been kindly donated to the FRT along with a supply of paraffin. This should make the cleaning of greasy/oily components much easier in the future. Fred and Roger appeared on Friday and also managed to find dust-free jobs on which to be engaged in progressing Caliban‘s overhaul.

There was a further working party on Wootton Hall on Saturday, with George making an appearance to prepare some more tubes for removal from the boiler and, with some help from David, cutting up some of the tubes already removed for loading into the metal skip.

Outside the shed, there has been some further tweaking of the alignment of the track into road four of the shed prior to the final packing of the ballast.

Finally, a first call now for the Preston Branch meeting next Tuesday 14th February. There will be some presentations of bygone rail traction and, as it’s St. Valentine’s night, it could be an excuse to bring along the other half for some steamy entertainment?! As usual, the meeting will be held at 8pm at the Ale Emporium, Fylde Road, Preston.