Monday 24th February 2020

We’ve been busy again…!

Phil Bell fits one of Fluff's cab windowsKeith has cut out the holes in Fluff‘s rear upper cab plate and Phil Bell has been busy making the final adjustments and fitting the brass-rimmed windows.

Fred wielding a hammer to a stubborn sand box linkageFred has been cleaning up the sand box linkage and is seen here persuading a stubborn nut to move.

John Davis cleans up one of the sand box outletsJohn Davis has been cleaning up the sand box outlet flanges.

The search for a replacement engine for Fluff continues and Nigel Harris kindly put out a plea on Twitter for people to let us know of any that might be available. One respondent helpfully suggested that we  look at barn sales for agricultural machinery that might possess a suitable Fowler Sanders engine, in particular a gyrotiller. Let us know if you see anything that might be of use…

John Dixon checks for rivet head dribbles of varnishFR 20’s boiler is now ready to receive some water when we can get it close to the water pipe in the Ribble Rail shed. Tim and John Dixon varnished FR 20’s tender water tank on Friday and John is seen checking for any stray varnish dribbles from the many rivet heads, which are undoubtedly the bane of any painter’s life!

Ade unloads the fire pumpWednesday saw Keith and Ade head off to Leyland to pick up the newly acquired fire pump and accessories. The RSR, which ran a half term steam service that day, had an overwhelming response from the public, so it took some time to find space for Ade to unload the kit with the forklift truck.

There is no news yet as to the date for 5643’s steam test at Embsay. Please note that there may not be a working party at Preston this Saturday as Keith is otherwise engaged on a steam trip.

Alan watches as David Rimmer cuts one of the birthday cakesThere seems to have been a spate of birthdays lately and Alison kindly provided celebratory cakes for Keith and Alan. David Rimmer is seen wielding a knife to one of them under Alan’s watchful eye.


Monday 17th February 2020

Up and awayA landmark stage in the overhaul of FR 20 was achieved when the dome was finally lifted into position by the Ribble Steam Railway’s track maintenance vehicle’s hi-ab.

Ade fits the dome into positionAde is seen making sure that the dome fits neatly into position.

Santa emerging from another chimney...Alan looks as if he has just popped up out of the boiler as he attends to the securing nuts.

John Dixon drills some holes in a blank for FR 20's boilerJohn has been preparing the last of the boiler blanks in readiness for some water to be put into the boiler.

A shiny new coat of paint for the tender tankPainting of the tender has continued with the left hand side of the tank now showing off its new coat of paint.

Fred and Alan Ogden wrestle with Fluff's sand boxFred and Alan Ogden have been wrestling to free the mechanism on the second of Fluff‘s sand boxes.

Phil Bell drills some more holesMore new platework for Fluff‘s rear cab sheet has been cut out and Phil Bell has been drilling some more holes.

Ready for the skipWith the new steel cut, Keith prepares to chop the old cab plate ready for the skip.

Finally, the steam test for 5643, originally scheduled for last Friday, has been postponed pending the acquisition of some replacement firebars. Colleagues at Embsay have this is in hand and the steam test should be carried out shortly.

Monday 10th February 2020

We start this week with the good news that the NDT on 5643’s firebox tubeplate, required by the boiler surveyor as part of the 14 month dry examination, revealed no traces of cracking and preparations are well in hand for the second part of the examination, the steam test, to take place at Embsay this Friday, 14th February. New fusible plugs and stay nuts have been acquired from South Coast Steam and it is planned that these will be fitted tomorrow, Tuesday.

Much sadder news from Embsay has been the passing of Charles Adams last Monday, 10th February, after a brave fight against cancer. Charles had been a stalwart of the Yorkshire Dales Railway (as it was previously known) for around 45 years and was in recent times the railway’s Footplate Standards Manager. Charles joined the Furness Railway Trust last year and became the guardian of ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Cumbria which is currently on hire to the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway. With assistance from others, Charles successfully worked to cure the leaking regulator valve which was very much appreciated. Our condolences go to Charles’ family.

Alan and Ade at work on FR 20's boilerBack at Preston Alan and Ade have been fitting a new dome joint on FR 20’s boiler in readiness for its forthcoming hydraulic test.

"I thought the engine was at the other end..."Underneath FR 20’s tender, John Dixon and Roger have re-fitted the vacuum pipe with its new custom made brackets. John is seen making use of the new access hole in the “boot”.

John at work on the stop cocks from FR 20's tenderAnother job on the list of things to do was to look at the two water shut-off cocks located on the sumps below the tender tank, the problem being that they have stiffened up with rust over time and are now impossible to do the job for which they were intended and actually shut. They have been removed and are undergoing attention from John.

Phil Bell fastening Fluff's plateworkThere has been more assembly of Fluff and Phil Bell has been fastening down more of its platework.

Fred cleaning up one of Fluff's sand boxesMore bits of Fluff have been dragged out from store in the outer shed area and Fred is seen making the best of the brighter weather on Friday cleaning up a sand box.

The interior of TSO 5036 looks bareThe FRT seems to be getting more and more involved with the RSR’s coaching stock, with Mike Rigg having taking on the C&W role. Seats on TSO 5036 have been removed for re-covering.

The seats are back!The professionally refurbished seats are now returning and John Davis and Mike Rigg are seen busy loading them aboard ready for re-fitting.

Keith and new pipework for Wootton HallAs ever, work has also continued on Wootton Hall and Keith is seen here fitting some newly formed copper pipe.

The previous week's drawing of Caliban's framesFinally, avid readers will remember the visits to our shed by local artist Gavin Redshaw, who has been preparing sketches of Caliban in preparation for a forthcoming exhibition at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery. That full exhibition opens this weekend – and full details are available here.

Monday 3rd February 2020

Work continues apace on the Trust’s projects at Preston.

FR 20’s tender is steadily changing colour as Tim progresses with the Furness Railway paint scheme. John Dixon drills holes beneath FR 20's tenderUnderneath, John Dixon has been drilling holes to fix  the new vacuum pipe carrying brackets.

Ade and Alan in the process of removing the valve seats from FR 20's domeAde and Alan spent some time on Wednesday removing the valve seats from FR 20’s dome for machining. The seats had previously been pressed into the dome so it took some persuasion to remove them, but with ace dismantler Ade to hand, we shouldn’t have worried!

Ade in the process of fitting one of Caliban's springsJust to demonstrate that dismantling isn’t Ade’s only talent, we include a welcome photo of him fitting one of Caliban‘s springs.

John Davis cleaning one of Fluff's window framesWork continues on Fluff and here we see John Davis cleaning up one of the window frames, with the trunk from ‘Nellie’ the fume extractor in close proximity.

Keith fitting a new vacuum pipe beneath Wootton Hall's cab floorKeith has been busy fitting more pipework to Wootton Hall. He is seen here under the cab floor with the vacuum pipe that links the brake valve to the tender vacuum cylinder.

Finally, the NDT examination of 5643’s tubeplate was carried out last Wednesday and, at the time of writing, we await the boiler surveyor’s prognosis.

Monday 27th January 2020

Just a short update this week. Projects continue to tick along but still with some way to go to the finishing line for any of them!

John Dixon painting bracketsJohn Dixon has continued his quest to up-rate the quality of the vacuum system fixing brackets on FR 20, having now remade all of them from scratch from steel off-cuts. They are now in the process of being painted.

FR 20's tender changing colourTim has concentrated his time this week painting FR 20’s tender, which is now rapidly changing colour.

Alan removing the brass casting from the top of the domeAlan has continued the task of  preparing FR 20’s boiler for a hydraulic test and is seen here removing the brass safety valve casting from the top of the dome.

Ade has been working on Caliban‘s axleboxes and there has been further progress on Fluff.

Keith preparing the base plate for Wootton Hall's screw reverser for weldingKeith has been welding up the new pipe which stretches from Wootton Hall‘s four cone ejector to the smokebox and he has also been preparing the new screw reverse baseplate for welding by Ian Massey.

Finally, the proof copy of The Iron Horse magazine has now been read and corrected so the magazines will probably be with us later this week for posting out to members.

Monday 20th January 2020

Plenty of photographs this week as our working members get to grips with a variety of projects.

Phil Bell painting the underside of FR 20's tenderWork on FR 20 continued with Alan spending time preparing joints for the boiler blanks. Beneath FR 20’s tender, Roger and Phil Bell (seen here) have been cleaning and painting the underside of the frames and tank.

John Dixon prepares a piece of steel prior to forming it into a vacuum pipe bracketJohn Dixon has decided to upgrade the brackets which support the vacuum pipe which runs below the engine and the tender. This was put together rather hastily at the beginning of 1999 and is now being brought up to a standard befitting of such a venerable locomotive. John is seen here at work tidying a piece of steel  with a file….

John Dixon then shapes the steel into a new bracket…. before bending it into shape with the aid of some heat.

John Davis applies emery cloth to Fluff's journalsJohn Davis has been cleaning up the journals on Fluff‘s wheelsets with the aid of some emery cloth.

Fred paints one of Fluff's lubrication potsFred has been studiously painting Fluff‘s lubrication oil boxes.

John Dixon and Keith Brewer hand shunt Caliban's wheelsPaul and Martin from the Ribble Rail staff helpfully arranged to shunt FR 20’s boiler out of the heated part of the FRT shed on Friday which allowed Caliban‘s wheels to be hand shunted into position in front of the frames. Caliban's wheels in front of the frames after the shuntCaliban‘s own boiler on a lowmac was then positioned in front of the wheels so that work on it can commence when resources permit.

The new hydraulic lifting tableThe newly purchased hydraulic table lift was unpacked and, for once, needed little assembly before being tested in readiness for future use.

There were productive working parties over at Embsay on Thursday and Saturday. Keith, Fred and George attended on Thursday, dismantling and cleaning the areas that the boiler surveyor needed to access. Keith and Fred returned on Saturday to be joined by Mike and Ed.

Keith Brewer tests for play in 5643 valveKeith removed both valve covers in order to assess the play in the valves.

Ed Tatham polishes 5643's cab roofEd concentrated on cleaning the cab area.

Fred cleans one of 5643's brass number platesFred polished up the brightwork.

Mike Rigg polishes the coupling rodsMike gave the coupling rods a good clean.

The boiler surveyor conducted a formal 14 month examination of the boiler today and passed it fit for further use subject to an NDT examination of the bottom of the firebox tubeplate. Arrangements will be made for this to take place as soon as possible. In the meantime, thanks to all those of you who braved the January weather to prepare 5643 for the survey.

Monday 13th January 2020

A short update to let you know that the working members have still been hard at work this week.

Phil Bell, John Davis and Roger Benbow in the process for re-assembling the brake gear on FR 20's tenderFR 20’s brake gear has been re-assembled after the long job of cleaning off old paintwork and re-painting – and, of course, remembering how it all fitted together! It seems that there was a little difficulty in getting the final split pins to fit with the suspicion being that the latest layer of paint is thicker than the previous layer. However, with the assistance of clamps, the job was finally achieved.

John Dixon has finished his work in modifying the rear drawgear on FR 20’s tender and, now that the brake gear is also in place, this will enable the painting of the outside of the tender to take place. Tim got out the masking tape and made a start with the painting on Friday afternoon.

Alan has been busy cutting out jointing material for the boiler blanks which, when fitted, will enable the hydraulic test to take place. However, before this can happen, the boiler itself needs to be moved to an area where it can be accessed by a lifting device to enable the dome to be re-fitted. The first shunt move to enable this to happened took place on Thursday morning. It is to be hoped that the next moves, which will also involve the movement of Caliban‘s wheels to the front of the frames, will take place in the not too distant future.

John Davis at work painting FluffWork has continued to paint Fluff, with John Davis wielding the trusty brush.More paint on Fluff

With various smaller lifting tasks due to take place as projects progress, a 500kg lifting table has been purchased and is due to arrived this next week. It will be interesting to find out just how much assembly will be involved and just how soon we will have to resort to the instructions!

Fred (the giant!) watches Gavin Redshaw at workWe have been joined over the last couple of weeks by artist Gavin Redshaw, who is preparing some drawings to be put on show in the Harris Institute. Fred is seen watching over Gavin as he sketches Caliban‘s wheels, whilst we can give you a preview of the previous week’s sketch of Caliban‘s frames on blocks.The previous week's drawing of Caliban's frames

RMB 1812 lifted for maintenance workOver in the main RSR workshop, the FRT’s former RMB has been lifted for maintenance.

A reminder that there will be working parties will take place at Embsay this next week on Thursday, 16th and Saturday, 18th January. Keith, Fred and George will be present on Thursday and Keith would be grateful for any further assistance that can be offered on either day.

Monday 6th January 2020

A Happy New Year to all readers of the blog. We hope that you enjoyed the Christmas festivities and avoided the seasonal coughs, colds and ‘flu that are around at the moment.

We are pleased to be able to report that some of our members soon put such seasonal distractions to one side and turned out for the working parties over the Christmas period, so well done to them.

Christmas Day itself brought a surprise to those of you who watched Call the Midwife for there was an unexpected fleeting cameo appearance by 5643, allegedly hauling a train from London to Scotland!

John Dixon cleaning out FR 20's bootMost of us who own cars do occasionally take some time to clean out the boot, and Adrian managed to get a photo of a John Dixon applying the vacuum cleaner to FR 20’s own ‘boot’ in readiness for the New Year – just don’t tell Jean!

Keith makes the sparks fly on Wootton HallKeith has been continuing his work on Wootton Hall and is seen here making the sparks fly.

Fred attends to one of FR 20's couplingsMeanwhile Fred has been giving attention to one of FR 20’s couplings.

Phil Bell drills holes in Fluff's running boardIn between finishing the painting of FR 20’s tender brake gear, Phil Bell has been drilling more holes in Fluff‘s running board.

John Davis polishes up one of Fluff's lubrication boxesJohn Davis is seen polishing up one of Fluff‘s lubrication boxes.

Live Steam ready to see in the New Year at the Engine Inn at CarkLive Steam provided a marathon performance on New Year’s Eve at the Engine Inn at Cark, finally finishing at 00.37 for a much needed rest.

Finally, we had the sad task on the 2nd January of saying farewell to Howard Fletcher. It says much for Howard’s popularity that there was standing room only at Ingol Methodist Church as over one hundred friends and members of his family gathered together for the occasion.

Monday 23rd December 2019

A quick update in what will be the last blog this year.

Firstly, Howard Fletcher’s funeral will take place at 11.00am at Ingol Methodist church on Thursday, 2nd January. It is understood that the wake will be held afterwards at the Ribble Steam Railway.

John Dixon repairing FR 20's tender drawgearThere has been a continued push to complete the overhaul of FR 20. John Dixon has carried on with his modification to the tender draw gear.

John Davis cleaning tender brake gearJohn Davis has been cleaning up more of the tender brake gear.

Paul Balshaw painting tender brake blocksEven the brake blocks are receiving a coat of paint, from Paul Balshaw.

Phil Bell painting under the tenderPhil Bell has been doing more painting under the tender.

FR 20's dome after cleaning and paintingFred has cleaned and painted the engine’s dome.

Alan fitting washout plugs to FR 20's boilerAlan has re-fitted the washout plugs in the boiler now that Andy Booth has inserted two new patch screws.

Keith working on one of Fluff's axleboxesMeanwhile, Keith has taken on board the work that Howard was doing to Fluff‘s axleboxes before his untimely death.

There is some good news in that the recently purchased CNC lathe, to which the FRT subscribed, has been successfully commissioned and programmed to produced some stay nuts and boiler stays for Walkden. This has been achieved with the assistance of a couple of people from UCLAN. Alan inspecting the new latheA Colchester lathe has also been purchased and is seen here being inspected by Alan. The cost is being shared with the Ribble Steam Railway and it will replace the lathe previously used by Bill Norcross. Bill has now retired from the workshop and we wish him the very best for the future.

Looking forward, working parties over the Christmas period will take place on Friday, 27th and Saturday, 28th December. These will be followed by working parties on Friday, 3rd and Saturday, 4th January.

Finally, a reminder that Live Steam will be performing their last gig of the year at the Engine Inn at Cark-in-Cartmel on New Year’s Eve.

Before we finish, we would like to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Monday 16th December 2019

We are sorry to have to start this week’s blog with the very sad news that Howard Fletcher, one of our regular working members at Preston, passed away last night. Howard had been taken into hospital last week with a bad nose bleed and was diagnosed with blood pressure issues following which he suffered a stroke. We will publish any more details that we receive in future blogs but, in the meantime, we send our condolences to Howard’s family.

Howard had joined the FRT in recent years from the main RSR workshop and  quickly settled in to become part of the FRT team. He was happy to use his engineering background take on those many fiddly jobs and spent much of his time working on Caliban and Fluff.  We will very much miss him.

Just a short update on work at Preston this week.

Phil Bell painting FR20's tender brake gearPhil Bell is still ensconced with painting the brake gear for FR 20’s tender.

FR 20's boot lid painted at lastAfter 21 years, the underside of the lid for the locker at the rear of FR 20’s tender has finally been painted. Tim decided to line it out as a test piece for painting the rest of the tender.

John Davis painting the underside of FluffJohn Davis has again been painting the underside of Fluff‘s frames.

Keith preparing pipework for Wootton HallKeith has been preparing and test fitting some pipework to Wootton Hall‘s cab.Test fitting pipework on Wootton Hall

The annual FRT Christmas dinner took place at The Hungry Horse restaurant at Lea Gate last Friday and was enjoyed by 22 members and guests. Thanks as ever to Alison for making the arrangements and for reminding us all as to what we had ordered!