Monday 17th December 2018

Last week’s blog contained a teaser that there was further news to be broadcast to you all. We can now reveal that the FRT has purchased a second-hand Collett 4,000 gallon tender tank that was advertised for sale nationally. Keith went to look at it at Tyseley and deemed it suitable for further use and ideal for fitting to Wootton Hall‘s chassis which has been the subject of extensive repairs over the past few years. The tank is not expected to arrive at Preston until the New Year.

Keith opens another early Christmas presentKeith is seen here opening another early birthday present on Wednesday when a set of newly cast axlebox underkeeps and brasses appeared in a delivery from the Severn Valley Railway. One of the new axlebox underkeeps for Wootton Hall's tenderThe axlebox underkeeps are indeed fine castings with no signs of corrective fettling, as can be seen here.

Adrian loads Wootton Hall's tender springsOn the departure side, Adrian is seen here placing on to the delivery lorry a set of six springs from Wootton Hall‘s tender which are to be overhauled after over fifty years out of use. Two spare springs are to be manufactured at the same time.

Keith fitting Wootton Hall's RH cab sideAnd talking of Wootton Hall, Keith is seen here temporarily fitting the right hand cab side in order to take measurements for boiler cladding and other fittings.

Wootton Hall's R/H cab side in position complete with numberplateAnother view here with the cab side number plate fitted completely alters the appearance of the loco and shows signs of things to come!

FR 20's boiler now re-positionedThe main job on Wednesday was to jack up FR 20’s boiler to allow easier access from under the firebox. The front of the boiler is now positioned on steel stands.

Elsewhere in the shed some smaller but nevertheless important jobs were tackled on Friday, including degreasing FR 20’s boiler cladding and rejuvenating steel trestles which had gone rusty after being used outside.

The FRT Christmas dinner was held at The Ribble Pilot pub on Saturday when 19 members and guests sat down to meal.

Looking forward to this next week, an NDT examination of FR 20’s boiler and Wootton Hall‘s tender wheelsets has been booked for this next Friday. The Iron Horse is now back with the printer after proof reading and, all being well, should be despatched to members before Christmas. The magazines will also contain membership renewal forms and it is hoped that you will all take the opportunity to return them quickly as we move towards yet another year with plenty of work on the horizon.

Finally, we hope shortly to be able to publish the details of some planned working parties over the Christmas period.

Monday 10th December 2018

Roger cleans one of FR 20's splashersMuch of volunteers’ time this week has been spent on the very basic but important task of cleaning up the motion, frames and boiler of Furness Railway No. 20. An undoubtedly dirty and sometimes very uncomfortable task, this type of work is sometimes inevitable during the day to day work of servicing and overhauling our locomotive fleet. However, if the load is spread, as in this case, it doesn’t become too much of a burden on any one particular person and we are pleased to report that Mike, John Dixon, John Davis, Paul Balshaw, Tim, Roger and Fred have all buckled down to the job with the result that it has progressed extremely well. Hopefully we will soon be in a position whereby can move on to other more satisfying work!John hard at work

Roger making use of scrap pipe

Andy Booth appeared on Sunday and has started the job of removing the tubes from FR 20’s boiler.

Howard has made some more progress on Fluff with assistance from George, who came to give us a hand on Saturday.

There was no riveting last Thursday as the gang is waiting for some special wedges which will enable the more awkward rivets to be fitted on Wootton Hall‘s tender frames. Working on the Hall's tenderMeanwhile, more progress has been made on the upper platework for the tender frames and the test fitting of components.

Keith with reverser standKeith has also been sizing up the position of the reverser stand on the loco frames so that other steelwork can be arranged around it.

The RSR’s Santa Specials along with the FRT sales stand have again consumed much volunteer labour this last weekend. Alan and Tim provided the music with assistance from Matthew on Sunday, Paul B and Mike helped Santa whilst John Davis, Jim, Alison and Jen ran the sales stand. That’s nine of us! With gales forecast, Tim and Matthew took the opportunity to be the first overnight campers in the mess hut to ensure that they were there in good time on Sunday and which we are told worked out well. Jim in festive moodJim is seen herein festive mood.

Looking forward, the Trustees have approved expenditure on the overhaul of the tender springs and the supply of two spares. It is anticipated that the six existing springs will be uplifted from the shed on Wednesday.

The Trustees have also approved the expenditure for a new safety wire system for working at height. It is planned to have this installed throughout the heated and unheated sections of road three of the shed. The technical sales representative of the supplier is due to pay us another visit on Wednesday to finalise details. Finally, just to add to this spending spree, the Trustees have also authorised expenditure on turning tyres and/or journals on a number of wheelsets, namely the three for the Hall‘s tender, two for Caliban and also the two tender wheelsets for FR 20. The work is expected to take place in February. There is something else on the way, but perhaps we’ll leave that for another blog!

Alan has completed the latest edition of The Iron Horse which is now with the printer. And a reminder here that it is the annual Christmas dinner on Saturday evening.

Monday 3rd December 2018

Christmas come earlyHeadline news for this week has been the arrival at Preston of the main components for former Furness Railway 0-4-0 No. 25, more recently known as Barrow Haematite Iron & Steel Co. 0-4-0ST No. 17.

As has been recounted previously in the blog, smaller items for the locomotive have been retrieved from Derby and Crewe, and the boiler components brought down from Stockton-on-Tees. However, it has been necessary to do rather more preparation before the Trust could receive the frames, cab, tank and wheels from storage at Carnforth. However, with the formal swapping of the FRT’s PMV with the RSR’s CCT and the removal of the body from the latter, the scene was set for the arrival of FR 25 last Wednesday morning.

FR 25 up and awayFortunately, all the planning and preparation paid off and the locomotive’s parts were safely offloaded from Martyn Soames low loader by a road crane and then secured on to the CCT frames. Forming a queue outside the FRT shedThe CCT was subsequently, on Thursday, moved around to stand outside the FRT’s shed, forming a queue for attention no doubt!

Fred dusts down FR 20's fireboxIn the meantime, work has continued to clean FR 20’s frames, wheels and motion on both Wednesday and Friday. Fred has now finished wire brushing the firebox and has made a good start on the boiler.

Paul Balshaw and John Davis completed the removal of the cantrail from GER No. 5 on Wednesday and the next stage will be to start the removal of the roof fittings. This is all in preparation for new roof canvas to be fitted.

We received a visit on Wednesday from a safety systems company who can supply a safety wire for the use of those working at height. There are a couple of options for the Trustees to consider.

John Dixon making his boxOne of Cumbria‘s clack boxes has been brought back from Embsay and John Dixon has spent some time making a box so that it can be despatched for repair.

Alan tells us that he is now in the final throes of preparing the next edition of The Iron Horse which it is hoped will be sent out around Christmastime.

Yet another riveting session on Wootton Hall‘s tender frames took place last Thursday, but there is likely to be a short break now whilst suitable wedges are brought in to enable the more awkward rivets to be fitted; this is in hand.

Finally, the RSR’s Santa Trains, which have been fully booked for some weeks, got off to a good start on Saturday and Sunday, with Alan and Tim reprising their roles as musical elves, Alison and Jen operating the FRT’s sales stand, and on Sunday Neil wielding the shovel on Courageous. 


Monday 26th November 2018

As usual, there has been no shortage of things to do this week.

Almost finished - the CCT chassisJohn Dixon has carried on and completed the work of demolishing the body of the CCT. Disposing of the wood is more fun!This left only the task of disposing of the wood, which seemed to take a lot of labour – or perhaps it was just a case of people wanting to gather around a warm fire on a cold day!

Ade loosens the cylinder cover nutsAdrian did what he does best on Wednesday and started the job of dismantling the cylinder covers on FR 20.

Roger cleans FR 20's motionRoger and Tim have been cleaning the motion and running plate whilst Alan has been inspecting the loco for the jobs that need to be done.Alan inspects FR 20 frames

Fred cleans the outside of FR 20's fireboxFred has again been patiently cleaning down the exterior of FR 20’s firebox in order for it to be subjected to non destructive testing.

Heating up another rivetThere was yet another riveting session on Thursday when another 50 or so rivets were inserted into the tender frames. Matt and Keith finish another rivet while John gets the next one readyIt is reckoned that there are now less that 100 more rivets to be added before the tender is finished and a start can be made on the engine’s drag box. We suspect that Matt Gervis is hoping for a Christmas break before the latter is attempted to let his shoulder recover! Keith is seen here drilling yet another hole ready for a rivet.Keith drills yet another hole in Wotton Hall's tender frames

John Davis on the magic carpet with GER No. 5The job of removing the cantrails from GER No. 5 has continued and is now on the last lap. It appears that the north side cantrail has yielded rather more swiftly to John Davis’s attentions.

There was good news from Embsay on Saturday when 5643 passed its steam test in the presence of the boiler surveyor and hauled the first of the Santa Trains there on Sunday. Thanks go to Keith, George and Fred for their efforts in preparing the engine.

The band entertains the Abbeyfield House residentsLive Steam had a busy weekend playing three gigs in less than 24 hours during the Dickensian Festival at Ulverston. After another successful night at the Old Friends inn on Saturday evening, they went on to entertain the residents at Abbeyfield House after lunch on Sunday.

Tim joins the residents in the comfy seatsTim took advantage of an Alan Middleton solo to join the residents and try out the comfy chairs – Alison reckons that he settled in very well and has threatened to make him a reservation for the future!

Live Steam take to the outdoor stage on SundayThe band then went out in the cold to provide the Festival Finale on the Theatre Street stage later in the afternoon, attracting a good crowd in the process. This rather belied the rumour that they are always put on last to make sure that everyone goes home!

Looking forward, next Wednesday should see the arrival at Preston of the frames, cab, tank and wheels from the former Furness Railway No. 25. This should mark the completion of the task of gathering together all the known components from the engine.

Monday 19th November 2018

The Trustees met at Alison’s house last Tuesday where, once safety, cash flow forecasts and work schedules had been mulled over, the major item on the agenda was as usual the task of demolishing the piles of sandwiches and cakes provided. Thank you, Alison!

The following day 5643 passed its cold 14 months examination by the boiler surveyor and a steam test has been arranged for noon next Saturday. All being well 5643 will be hauling Santa Trains on the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway on Sunday.

Alan Middleton inspects the outside on FR 20's fireboxAnother big shunt took place at Preston last Wednesday which saw FR 20’s frames being placed in the unheated part of the FRT shed. Tim spent some time wire brushing the inside of the firebox while Alan went for the cleaner task of removing the external expansion brackets.

On Friday Fred started the task of wire-brushing the exterior of FR 20’s boiler and firebox whilst Roger undertook some cleaning of the frames and motion.

John Davis, with assistance from Paul Newton, removed the remainder of the south cantrail on GER No. 5 on Wednesday and then on Friday moved around  to commence work on the north side. There was also more work on Fluff and the riveting gang convened once again on Thursday.

John Dixon at work on the PMVOutside, at the end of Wednesday John Dixon had nearly finished the task of dismantling the body on the PMV, which will then be used to accommodate the frames of FR 25 on arrival.

Next weekend sees folk group Live Steam back in action, firstly performing a Lancashire Night set of songs at the Old Friends public house in Ulverston on Saturday evening. On Sunday afternoon they will be appearing at Ulverston’s Abbeyfield House before taking their place on the Theatre Street car park stage at 15.25 to start to bring to a close the weekend’s Dickensian Festival; unusually the weather forecast for Sunday looks relatively placid with no snow or hurricanes yet forecast! (Oh dear, now that will have tempted fate… Ed.)

Monday 12th November 2018

Ed and Alan move Caliban's wheelsThere was a productive shunt last Wednesday when FR 20’s boiler was moved into the FRT shed to enable work to commence under cover. At the same time it was possible to release Caliban‘s wheels which were moved out by hand, with Ed Tatham and Alan Middleton seen here with the driving set. Thanks to Phil, Matt B and Ade who moved the stock around to make it all happen.

John Davis still up in the airJohn Davis and Paul Balshaw spent more time this week in their efforts to release more of the south side cantrail on GER 5 while Paul Newton continued work on the L&NWR platform seat.

John Dixon and Ed continue the demolition of the PMVJohn Dixon and Ed spent time on Wednesday dismantling the body on the PMV.

Mike Rigg attempts to remove some of Fluff's footplateHoward, Alan Ogden and Mike Rigg concentrated their efforts on Fluff, with Mike seen here trying to remove a stubborn piece of the cab footplate.

Keith, George and Fred spent Wednesday over at Embsay preparing 5643 for its 14 month cold boiler exam, which is scheduled to take place at 10.00 on Friday, 16th November.

Roger attends to the water pump with assistance from FredFred was back at Preston on Friday with Roger and brought back from Embsay the high pressure water pump which was suffering from wobbly wheels! Roger set about making the necessary repairs and then subsequently also repaired the fan in the mess room which had disintegrated the previous week.

Keith bolts on the tender steps fixing plate.There was a further riveting session last Thursday although the absence of Matt G reduced the number of rivets fitted. There will be another session next Thursday. Keith is seen here fitting a step retaining bracket on the tender frames.

Bill Croston's new mural in place by the playgroundAnd finally, outside the FRT shed, Bill Croston’s new mural has been erected alongside the new children’s playground.

Monday 5th November 2018

Unlike last week’s blog, there is no headline news this week. Just lots of things to do!

Last Wednesday saw the start of a massive shunt devised by Matt Gervis which should see all the winter projects on site in their rightful places. Eventually this will see both FR 20’s frames and boiler undercover in the FRT shed so that the ten year overhaul can progress.

Ade and Andy Beswick with the Class 47 cab.The first part of the shunt involved the transfer of the Class 47 cab from the Ribble Rail shed to the workshop where it will be turned around with the crane before being put on display in the museum. Ade and Andy Beswick are seen here conducting the move of the Class 47 at an appropriate slow walking pace. Unfortunately, despite their patience, one set of wheels on the accommodation bogie ran hot and seized about 200 yards further down the line, which brought the shunt to a premature halt whilst things cooled down and oil was liberally applied to those parts that needed it. The tendency of diesel Stanlow to dump its air without notice also delayed matters so it is now anticipated that the next stage of the shunt will take place next Wednesday.

John Dixon prods a stubborn brick arch in FR 20's fireboxMeanwhile, John Dixon and Tim set about removing the brick arch from FR 20’s firebox. This, like the shunt above, turned out to be a rather longer job than anticipated owing to the fact that the arch did not appear to have deteriorated over the past ten years. However, two and a half hours later the final piece fell to the ground to be barrowed away and the weltrol tidied.

Keith and Alan with Cumbria's fireman's side clack boxCumbria‘s clackbox has recently been brought back to Preston for attention, it being replaced at Embsay by one of their own. Keith and Alan can been seen here dismantling the various items and it looks as if we will need to order a special, no doubt expensive, tap to clean up some of the threads inside the body.

Alan Ogden and Howard with FluffAlan Ogden has appeared again from the deep south west and was at work with Howard on Fluff.

John Davis works on GER 5John Davis has been continuing with the long and tedious task of removing the cantrails from the GER Royal Saloon as a prelude to the canvas roof being replaced. John achieved the removal of the middle section of the south cantrail this week. Well done!

The riveting gang met again on Thursday for a productive session during which another fifty or so rivets were fitted to Wootton Hall‘s tender frames.

Roger Benbow removing wood from the PMVVarious people have been assisting with the removal of the top of the PMV and John Dixon and Roger followed up their work on Friday by removing most of the remaining wood whilst Fred enjoyed a seasonal bonfire with the unwanted pieces of wood.Fred and his pre 5th November bonfire

Bob Thomson appeared on Friday to continue his work on drawings for Wootton Hall and Mike Rigg received some ribbing from fellow members for finding a nice warm office in which he has been sorting out a backlog of RSR membership forms.

Looking forward, Keith and Fred will be travelling over to Embsay on Wednesday to commence the task of preparing 5643 for its 14 month boiler survey which is booked to take place on the 16th November. Further working parties there are likely on either Friday of Saturday.

Monday 29th October 2018

We start with the news that FR 20’s boiler was successfully lifted out of the frames at Preston on Saturday afternoon. John Dixon, Ade and Tim had spent time on Wednesday clearing the chosen weltrol wagon of springs and other miscellaneous items and then loading old sleepers which would support the boiler when loaded. The threesome returned on Saturday when rail entry to the workshop was easier with the service rake of coaches absent and in use.

John and Ade arrange the lifting straps on FR 20's boilerAndy Murphy offered to operate the crane and, after fitting the lifting straps a few test lifts were made to adjust the positions after which a perfectly level lift was achieved.

A perfect liftThe boiler was turned around to enable easier extraction of the tubes when the weltrol is finally shunted into road two of the FRT shed.

John waiting for the weltrolAfter some re-arrangement of the sleepers, the boiler was finally lowered on to the weltrol. A key milestone in the overhaul of FR 20 had been achieved.FR 20's boiler on the weltrol

Andy Murphy lights the gas axeWednesday saw the start of the removal of the body from the newly acquired PMV. Andy Murphy is seen here preparing to light the gas axe.

The JCB at workOnce some of the stanchions had been cut through the JCB was brought in to pull the components apart.

PMV looking a bit sadJohn Dixon and Chris Rycroft achieved some further destruction on Friday with a jig saw and, being the thrifty fellow that he is, John retrieved some of the wooden panelling for further use.

There was no riveting session on Wootton Hall‘s tender on Thursday owing to the indisposition of Matt Gervis. However, there has been good progress on painting the newly riveted front section of the frames. Keith with the rear buffer beam for Wootton Hall's tender ready for rivetingKeith is seen here with the rear buffer beam which is now ready for riveting into place.

Alien called George at workWe had another ‘Dr Who’ invasion on Saturday, but this alien, named George, was happy to be put to productive work removing rivet heads.

There has been some further progress by Ade with the decoration of Caliban‘s frames. Fred painting Fluff's framesFluff has received more attention from Howard, Alan Ogden and Fred, who applied some primer paint to the frames.

John Davis at work on GER 5Some further progress as made on Friday by Mike and John Davis on removing the cantrails from GER Royal Saloon No. 5.

Finally, Alison and Alan appeared on Friday to set up the FRT sales stand which Alison staffed over the Spooky Trains weekend.


Monday 22nd October 2018

With Tim taking a short walking break in the Scottish Lowlands this week, the blog has been compiled from notes and photos provided by Mike.

Ade and John Dixon continued work on Caliban and FR 20 respectively last Wednesday whilst Howard, John Davis and Mike worked on Fluff, removing part of the footplate and also some of the gear linkages which are stiff.

Newly riveted foot steps for Wootton Hall's tenderKeith was busy preparing for another riveting session on Thursday. The footsteps shown in last week’s blog have now had the steps riveted into place permanently.

Matt Gervis and Keith Brewer riveting Wootton Hall's tender framesMatt Gervis and Keith are seen here riveting whilst an aerial shot shows Wootton Hall’s tender frames and also Chris Rycroft, who was cutting the rivets to size.Aeirial view of Matt Gervis, Keith and Chris Rycroft during riveting operations

John Dixon heating up a rivetJohn Dixon is seen here heating up one of the rivets; a total of around 50 were fitted last Thursday.

John Davis and Paul Newton emptying the PMVThe main event on Friday was the emptying of the newly acquired PMV in readiness for the body to be removed.PMV ready for body removal

The chassis will eventually be used for the second class North London Railway coach body which is currently in store at Blackpool. In the shorter term it may well be used to store the frames for FR 25 when they arrive from Carnforth.

Fred and Bob were also present on Friday with Fred cleaning FR 20’s components and Bob preparing drawings for Wootton Hall.

Newly manufactured cog for Wootton Hall's reverserIn the main workshop Bill Norton has machined up a cog which will eventually form part of Wootton Hall‘s reverser – it is seen here with the reverser handle.

Saturday saw the removal of some Sentinel wheels from the Weltrol which is planned to be used to accommodate FR 20’s boiler. Hopefully a boiler lift can be arranged this week.

Looking forward, there are Spooky Trains at the Ribble Steam Railway this next weekend and it won’t be too long before the Santa Specials in December. Alison is looking for help for anyone who can assist with the latter trains.

Monday 15th October 2018

FR 20’s boiler is now ready for lifting after more concerted work by our friendly alien who answers to the name of John – see last week’s blog. Ade is on standby to do the necessary shunt with the receiving wagon and we await further details as to when the lift can be arranged.

Meanwhile, work continues on cleaning up and painting the various components that have been removed from FR 20, with Fred and Tim making further progress. Once painted, the labelled components are placed into store.

Paul Balshaw painting Caliban's cabAde has once again been prettying Caliban‘s frames with his paint brush whilst Paul Balshaw and John Davis have been making the most of some decent weather by putting more undercoat paint on the cab. John Davis painting Caliban's cabRoger has continued his work on cleaning and painting the eccentrics.

Wootton Hall's tender cab steps ready for rivetingThere has been more work on Wootton Hall including the behind the scenes preparation of drawings by Bob who was present on Friday. The Thursday riveting gang of Keith, John Dixon and Matt Gervis has again convened. This photo taken last Wednesday shows the steps which give access to the cab ready for attention from the rivet gun.

There was good news on the former FRT RMB’s electrics, which had been causing heads to be scratched when the batteries wouldn’t charge. Russ Walker found a faulty fuse – but one which had supposedly already been checked and found to be OK! Anyhow, this success should enable Mike to get up off his knees and attend to other things. Incidentally, Mike and Dave Starkie attended a carriage workshop at the East Lancashire railway last Wednesday which Mike says was very useful.

Howard and Keith with FluffThere has been further progress with Fluff – Howard and Keith are seen here discussing the work in hand. John Davis also did some work on cleaning the footplate on Friday.

Paul Newton at work with the L&NWR platform seatWork on the L&NWR platform seat from Preston station has also continued and Paul Newton is seen here doing some woodwork.

Richard Greenwood's photo of Wootton Hall south of Eastliegh on 3rd November 1961Finally, we wanted to share a photo from British Railways days of the FRT’s GWR ‘Hall’ Class 4-6-0 No. 4979 Wootton Hall which has been kindly sent to us today by Richard Greenwood. It shows the locomotive heading south from Eastleigh with what was presumably an inter-regional train, probably heading for Southampton and Bournemouth, on the 3rd November 1961. Thanks, Richard.