Monday 9th December 2019

Work has continued on FRT projects at Preston despite the call on labour to assist with the RSR’s Santa Specials.

John Dixon at work on FR 20's tender drawgearJohn Dixon has continued with repairs to the drawgear on FR 20’s tender.

Phil Bell painting one of FR 20's tender brake hangersTim has been preparing the tender for painting whilst Phil Bell has been busy painting more of the tender brake assembly.

Paul Balshaw, John Dixon and John Davis at work on FluffThere has been more work on Fluff with Paul Balshaw and John Davis painting the running boards and John Dixon making a small alteration to the steelwork.

David Rimmer painting Fluff's framesDavid Rimmer has been adding some more paint to the frames.

Keith painting the floor supports on Wootton Hall's tenderKeith Brewer has received the new floor supports for Wootton Hall‘s tender back from the forge after amendment and, after fitting them, has been applying some paint.

Jen and Alison in festive moodWith the Santa Specials in full swing, Jen, Alison and John Davis have been in festive mood and in charge of FRT sales over the last weekend.John Davis in festive mood

But… Ade not in festive moodSomeone apparently not in festive mood was Sunday’s steam driver, Ade!


Monday 2nd December 2019

A short update this time, just to let you all know that work is still progressing on all fronts, although with little massively new to report.

Tim has been rubbing down the weatherboard on FR 20’s tender, although the sudden news that the overhead wires on the West Coast main line had come down last Wednesday caused him to down tools and jump into Alison’s car for a lift to Carnforth – and what a good move that was with services only recovering the following morning! Work also continued on cleaning and painting the tender brake gear. John Dixon making the sparks fly whilst making a modification to FR 20's tender drawgearJohn Dixon has worked further on his modification to the rear tender drawhook arrangement and is seen here busy with his angle grinder.

John Davis bolting down Fluff's running boardsMore paint has gone on Fluff and John Davis is seen bolting down the running boards.

Finally, with the Ribble Steam Railway’s Santa Specials operating on Saturday and Sunday, Tim and Alan were busy entertaining the passengers on board the trains whilst Alison, Jen and Jim were busy staffing the FRT sales stand. Derek Milby and Jim Kay with the FRT sales stand. Wonder when Jim is due to give birth!Jim is seen along with Derek, who made an appearance on Saturday.


Monday 25th November 2019

Roger removes a stubborn brake hanger pinPhil Bell has now taken on the task of removing the left-hand brake gear from FR 20’s tender and Roger is seen here lending a hand to remove one of the stubborn brake hanger pins.

This will enable some more of the tender chassis as well as the brake gear to be cleaned and repainted. Fred cleans up one of FR 20's tender brake rodsFred immediately went into action to clean off one of the brake rods.

John Dixon cuts a hole in the floor of FR 20's bootJohn Dixon has now turned his attention to repairing and modifying the rear draw hook on the tender. Whilst the tender does have an access hole to the pin that holds the brake gear to the draw spring, it wasn’t sufficiently large to enable a stubborn split pin to be removed in such a confined space. The draw hook pin exposedSo John has now created a large access hole in the bottom of the rear tender locker and as a result the draw hook has now been removed.

Meanwhile Alan managed to locate most of the blanking plates for FR 20’s boiler ready for fitting prior to the hydraulic test.

John Davis paints some of Fluff's control leversJohn Davis has been painting some more of Fluff‘s components.

Adrian was busy shunting coaches last Wednesday ready for the Santa Specials which start this weekend so was unable to progress with Caliban‘s overhaul. Keith and Fred have been back to Embsay once again to attend to 5643 after its washout and the loco was test steamed yesterday.  Thanks to the Embsay Loco Department Facebook page for this atmospheric image:5643's steam test at Embsay

Cumbria was in charge of the first of the Santa Specials there yesterday, and Embsay posted this video leaving Bolton Abbey.

Keith with the left hand cover for the lubrication valves on Wootton Hall's smokeboxBack at Preston Keith has been fabricating new covers for the lubrication valves which are situated on the side of Wootton Hall‘s smokebox. Having successfully made the left-hand one (above) he then spent Sunday progressing the bigger one for the right hand side.Test fitting the right hand valve cover

Also on Sunday Neil brought his daughter Caitlin for her first volunteering visit, and what better way to start her career than under FR 20’s tender cleaning off the muck while the brake gear is out of the way?!Caitlin working on FR 20 This baptism didn’t seem to put her off: she says she wants to come back and do more!

Live Steam at the Dick FestFinally, after their practice last Monday, Live Steam were in action for three gigs at the Ulverston Dickensian Festival over the weekend and are seen in action as they perform the Festival Finale yesterday evening. They have already been invited back to perform at all three venues next year!


Monday 18th November 2019

Phil Bell and John Davis drilling holes in Fluff's running boardFluff‘s makeover continues to progress at a steady pace. Phil Bell and John Davis have been drilling the new plate for the running board.

John Davis painting Fluff's running boardJohn then went on to give the plate a couple of coats of paint.

Fluff's newly painted wheelsMeanwhile David Rimmer has been painting the wheels.

One of the many tweaks that are being applied to FR 20 during its overhaul has been the addition of more dummy rivet heads by John Dixon. Horror of horrors, it had been noted by the rivet counter amongst us that one side of the tender possessed a few more rivets than the other!!! We can now all breathe easy now that this error has been rectified, even though it took 20 years to spot the error! John Dixon cleans up the new rivet heads on Fr 20's tenderJohn is seen tidying up the rivet heads after welding them into place.

Ed cleaning his nutsTim has been on top of the tender to apply a coat of red oxide and Ed Tatham has been cleaning up the nuts that secure the tender tank on to the frames.

Phil and Roger re-fitting FR 20's tender brake gearPhil and Roger spent Friday starting the process of re-fitting the right hand tender brake gear after it had been cleaned and painted. The left hand brake gear had been deliberately left in place in order to act as a guide for the re-fitting process. Turned out to be a wise move!

Fred cleaning up Wootton Hall's tender fillerFred spent last Friday cleaning up Wootton Hall‘s tender filler top after a new section of ring had been welded into place.

Wootton Hall's firehole door mechanism fittedThe recently acquired firehole door mechanism for Wootton Hall has now been cleaned, painted and fitted.

Keith painting Wootton Hall's tender topKeith is seen here putting a spot more paint on Wootton Hall‘s tender top.

Adrian has been making some more progress with Caliban and Keith and Fred have again been over to Embsay to complete the washout of 5643.

Live Steam in a practice sessionWith the Ulverston Dickensian Festival coming up next weekend, Live Steam have been practicing in earnest this afternoon around a plate of mince pies. They will be performing at the Old Friends pub on Saturday evening and then at Abbeyfield House after lunch on Sunday. Finally they will bring down the curtain on the festival on the outdoor Theatre Street stage late on Sunday afternoon. Let’s hope that the weather stays fine.

Tomorrow will see the Trustees meet at Over Kellett where there will no doubt be another pile of food to tackle before they are allowed to go home. However, there might well be the odd left over pieces of cake for Ade on Wednesday!


Monday 11th November 2019

Wootton Hall's tender wheels in the shedThe wheels for Wootton Hall‘s tender have arrived in the shed ready for the new bearings to be scraped in. We are now in the process of procuring some lubricating pads although it seems that there is quite a lead time for these items.

Keith drilling one of Wootton Hall's tender footplate floor supportsMore items have appeared from the forge at Kirkham this week. Keith has been drilling holes in the newly-arrived steel supports for the tender footplate floor.

Footplate floor supports in positionThey have now been fitted into position although some adjustment to their shape is necessary before final fitting.

Howard attending to one of Fluff's axleboxesWork continues on painting the inside of Fluff‘s frames and Howard has been attending to the axleboxes.

Alan sizes up the replacement manifold for CalibanA second-hand replacement manifold for Caliban was the centre of Alan’s attention last Wednesday. It seems that it has been some considerable time since the various components have been dismantled… Give me a long enough leverThe old adage says “give me a long enough lever and I will move the earth”…. I'll get it moved!!… and so Alan attempted to put this into practice with a series of pipes added to the handle of his stilsons! Adrian, famed for his dismantling abilities, joined to finish off the job.

Roger cleaning one of FR 20's tender spectacle plate glassesFred finished cleaning out the top well at the back of FR 20’s tender and Roger completed the rather extended task of removing the protective gaffer tape from FR 20’s spectacle glasses – we won’t be doing that again in a hurry!

John Dixon painting the inside of FR 20's tender framesThe tender tank is almost ready for painting and Phil Bell is also nearly ready to re-fit the first half of the brake rigging after cleaning and painting. John Dixon has again been underneath the tender and is seen giving the inside of the frames some paint.

Finally, as forecast last week, Keith and Fred have been across to Embsay to give 5643 a wash-out prior to the operation of the Santa Specials there.


Monday 4th November 2019

John Dixon puts black gloss on the bottom of the tender footplate floorThe front of FR 20’s tender has come back together now after a strip down for cleaning of the drag box and buffing gear. John Dixon is seen applying a coat of gloss black paint to the underside of the footplate floor last Wednesday before it was lifted back into position on Friday.

Phil Bell paints the inside of FR 20's tender stepsPhil Bell has been back underneath the tender to give the inside of the steps a coat of black paint.

Phil Bell with a selection of FR 20's brake rigging for paintingWe let Phil out from the pit on Friday and he is seen here with a selection of the brake gear for painting.

Even FR 20's brake blocks get a coat of paint, from John DavisEven the brake blocks are getting a coat of paint, from John Davis.

Roger about to remove protective tape from one of the spectacle plate glasses on FR 20's tenderWith the footplate floor back in place, Roger has been removing protective black tape from the spectacle glass windows.

The tender upper almost complete with John Dixon attaching one of the top footplate hand railsJohn has re-installed the hand rail stanchions and is seen fitting one of the top hand rails.

Fred applying a cup wire brush to the well on the back of FR 20's tenderFred spent all of Friday on top of the tender cleaning up the rear well with his trusty cup wire bush.

John Davis applies black gloss paint to the inside of Fluff's framesThere was more progress on Fluff with undercoat on one of the wheelsets and some gloss black paint from John Davis on the inside of the frames.

Finally, Keith is hoping to go across to Embsay next Saturday and Sunday to undertake a washout on 5643. Please let Keith know if you can assist.


Monday 28th October 2019

There is more steady progress to report this week at Preston.

John Dixon with FR 20's tender cab floorJohn Dixon has been working on FR 20’s tender footplate. It was originally slightly short of metal on the up-curve next to the coal hole, which had previously been overcome with the temporary expedient (20 years ago!) of being filled with fibreglass. Over time some of the fibreglass has broken up and so a proper job is now being undertaken this time around.

Phil Bell cleaning one of FR 20's tender brake hangersTim continues to prepare the tender tank and outside frames for painting whilst the brake rigging is also in the process of receiving a fresh coat of paint and Phil Bell is seen cleaning up one of the brake hangers.

Fred cleaning one of FR 20's brake pinsFred has been cleaning up some of the brake pins.

Roger reaching to places where no others have penetrated for yearsMeanwhile Roger has been undertaking a long overdue clear out of the rear storage box on the tender, reaching into areas where no one has dared to explore for years!

John Davis adjusting Fluff's cab pedalFluff is slowly going back together and John Davis is pictured adjusting the cab foot pedal under the watchful gaze of Howard and John Dixon.

Ade lifts one of Caliban's axleboxes into positionAde has again been attending to the axleboxes on Caliban.

Keith shaping one of Wootton Hall's injector delivery pipesKeith has been shaping the injector delivery pipes for Wootton Hall.

Keith has also been over to Embsay where 5643 sprung a steam leak at a joint with the main steam pipe a couple of weeks ago. A loose stud was eventually found to be the cause of the problem and, after Keith had fitted a replacement, the locomotive was successfully tested this week. A wash out is now due before the start of the Santa Specials, so please let Keith know if you are able to assist.


Monday 21st October 2019

It has been another week of working away steadily at the FRT’s ongoing projects.

Firstly we can report that, after a thorough clean and re-paint, FR 20’s front tender drag box is in the process of reassembly. The heavy buffing spring was lifted back into position and then the even heavier drag box cover plate was put back on Friday. John Dixon giving FR 20' s tender some thoughtJohn Dixon is seen here giving the matter some deep thought!

The engine spring that was removed from FR 20 the previous week was despatched to the spring manufacturer last Wednesday to act as a template for replacement narrower springs which George, after undertaking a complex calculation, has deemed appropriate for the job. Phil Bell and John Davis work to remove a brake hanger on FR 20's tenderUnderneath the tender, John Davis and Phil Bell have dismantled the right hand tender brake hangers for cleaning and painting and to give access to the frames. This has created further work for Fred who will no doubt be pleased to learn that a new batch of cup wire brushes has arrived!

Ade has been busy fettling the axlebox lubrication on Caliban whilst there has been further progress on cleaning the frames and axleboxes on Fluff. Howard happy at his workHoward seems very happy at his work on Fluff.

And finally, Keith has been assembling more pipework in Wootton Hall‘s cab.


Monday 14th October 2019

It has been one of those weeks where work has been steady but generally unspectacular in the way of results.

FR 20’s tender continues to be sanded down by Tim, who is taking the opportunity to sort out the odd blemish in the steelwork with filler that time did not permit first time around.

Roger painting the interior of FR 20's front tender drag boxWork on the tender front drag box is progressing well with Roger applying a top coat of paint to the interior.

John Dixon painting the cover for the tender drag box on FR 20John Dixon has been putting top coat black to the draw bar, buffing spring and also the drag box cover.

Fred cleaning up FR 20's hand brake with John Davis on the leftFred has been cleaning up the tender handbrake (foreground) whilst John Davis (left) has been cleaning up axleboxes from Fluff.

One of FR 20's engine springsTim, Alan and Adrian gathered to jack up the rear of FR 20’s engine in order to release a spring. This is to be sent away to act as a pattern for a narrower set of springs that will be more appropriate to the engine’s weight, which has reduced to 25 tons rather than the 36 tons it had been as a saddletank.

Newly fitted splasher supporting one of Wootton hall's nameplatesKeith has completed the metalwork for the new splashers for Wootton Hall, one of which is seen supporting one of its nameplates.

Secondhand ejector elbow for Wootton HallKeith was able to purchase from the Worth Valley Railway a second-hand ejector elbow..

Second-hand firehole door mechanism for Wootton Hall.. and also second-hand firehole door mechanism for Wootton Hall.

There was also more work carried out on Caliban.

Finally, for those of you who use Amazon to purchase goods, you may be interested to learn that if you opt to use the Amazon Smile web site instead, you can make a small donation to the Furness Railway Trust on every item that you purchase. You should find making the Furness Railway Trust as your preferred charity a fairly simple task.

Monday 7th October 2019

Work has continued on Furness Railway No. 20 this week. Andy Booth has completed his work on the tubes and we need to think about fitting blanks ready for a hydraulic test. There are a couple of corner firebox screws to attend to as well.

John Dixon with the magnetic drillJohn Dixon has been creating a bar to be fitted on to the floor of the front tender drag box to support the buffing spring. He is seen here at work with the magnetic drill.

John Davis and Phil Bell under FR 20's tenderPhil Bell, seen with John Davis, has continued his work below the tender frames which includes the dismantling of some of the brake rigging to allow access to the frames and for cleaning.

Tim sands down FR 20's tenderTim has continued the task of sanding down the tender paintwork.

Alan and Adrian with a new felt pad in one of Caliban's axleboxesAdrian and Alan have been engaged on the task of fitting new felt lubrication pads into Caliban‘s axleboxes.

Howard filingWe haven’t seen many photographs of Howard lately so here is one of him filing down a metal insert into Fluff‘s new running board.

John Davis cleaning up one of Fluff's springsJohn Davis has been cleaning up Fluff‘s springs.

One of Wootton Hall's tender axlebox bearings in the process of being machinedWork has also continued this week on Wootton Hall‘s new splashers and the machining the newly white-metalled tender bearings, one of which is shown here.

The 'new' CNC machine arrivesA second-hand CNC machine, the purchase cost being subscribed to by the FRT, arrived at Preston on Wednesday and has been positioned in the RSR workshop.

The Ribble Steam Railway Diesel Gala took place last weekend and Class 14 D9539 hauled one of the evening trains for the Folk Evening.

Geoff Middleton ready to pipe in the last Folk TrainGeoff Middleton was on hand to pipe in the last train.

Can you believe it???Meanwhile brother Alan entertained as a one man band.

Cumbria back in actionOver at Embsay, Cumbria made a successful return to traffic with the Sunday dining train (thanks to the Embsay loco group’s Facebook for the picture) while 5643 is lined up for a few repairs this week.

Finally, don’t forget the annual Barrow Model Railway exhibition which takes place at Barrow’s 6th Form College this weekend.