Monday 3rd September 2018

It has been another week of graft although we are yet to see some of the fruits of these efforts.

Keith has spent quite a lot more time over at Embsay in his efforts to achieve a satisfactory seating of the regulator box on the smokebox tubeplate. Some unevenness on the surface of the tubeplate is causing packings to be blown out at only 5 psi. Some Taylor (brass corrugated) sealing rings were ordered on Wednesday which will be used once Keith is happy with his work in the smokebox.

FR 20's cab spectacle plate now removedFR 20’s front spectacle plate was removed on Wednesday with the help of the workshop crane and John Dixon continued the process of removing both the boiler cladding and the hand rails on Friday. Fred cleaned up some of the components that had been removed on his appearance on Friday.

Adrian and Howard continued their work on Caliban and Roger painted the backs of the wheels.

The west side of the mess hut now paintedTim finished painting the west side of the mess hut and it is hoped that the south end and some of the protruding east side can be painted this next week.

John Davis and Paul Newton continued their work on the L&NWR bench seat, which was appreciated at the weekend by the daughter of the gentleman who had originally donated the bench to the RSR’s museum. She now looks forward to seeing the finished restoration when she returns in a couple of months – no pressure, then, chaps!

Mike and Paul Balshaw have been continuing their work on de-mystifying the electrics on the former FRT RMB with the aim of getting the fan and lights to come on at the flick of their respective switches.

Finally, those who have followed our locos around the country in campervans have long understood the necessity of taking along a stock of duct tape and WD40: the duct tape to be applied to things that move, but shouldn’t, and the WD40 to be applied to those items that should move but don’t. It was heartening, therefore, to learn that, when the International Space Station (ISS) sprang a life threatening leak after a collision with some galactic debris this week, the astronaut turned to their own supply of duct tape to seal the leak! Sometimes the simplest of solutions are the best.

Tuesday 28th August 2018

We start this week’s blog with the sad news that FRT member and RSR Board member Dave Manley died last Tuesday morning after a three year fight against cancer. Dave had been a key member of the Ribble team at Preston and could often be found driving the mobile plant to top up coal with the JCB, receive materials with the fork lift or move earth with the dumper truck. He was always helpful to us when there was a need to get things done and he will be very much missed by us all. The funeral will be at Crewe Crematorium on Friday, 7th September at 15.20, with donations to the Macmillan Nurses.

FR 20 being dismantled in the RSR workshop 240818John Dixon removing one of Fr 20's number platesWork continued last week on the job of dismantling FR 20 with John and Tim spending most of their time on the job on both Wednesday and Friday.  Neil came in on Saturday to clean the footplate around the reverser quadrant.

Tim also managed to carry out some paintwork round the mess cabin door on Wednesday but was then thwarted by the weather.

Fred and Roger cleaning up Caliban's wheelsAdrian and Howard have continued their work on Caliban and Fred and Roger appeared on Friday to clean up the insides of the wheels, which had been released from under the frames the previous Wednesday.

There was some considerable disappointment at Embsay on Friday when there were difficulties in raising the required pressure on 5643 and Keith returned there on Saturday and today to try and effect remedial work on the loco. The cause of the problem was a steam leak around the regulator box and this has been removed and brought back to Preston to be machined, hopefully on Wednesday.

Alan in 3 rail heavenAnd finally, the Friendly Engines event on the RSR over the Bank Holiday weekend was augmented by some model railways to keep visitors entertained. The weekend was deemed to be a success with visitor numbers higher than last year on all three days. Alan is seen here happily operating his three rail O gauge train set.


Monday 20th August 2018

There were six continuous days of working last week as members tackled the wide variety of work on hand at the moment.

Keith was back at Embsay last Tuesday with Embsay’s Roger re-assembling 5643 after the successful hydraulic test the previous week. He was then back there on Saturday and again on Sunday with Fred. The result of all this work is that 5643 is now ready for a formal steam test which is planned to take place this next Friday. Well done to all concerned for their efforts!

Alan inspects Cumbria's regulatorAlan and Tim went over to Embsay on Wednesday to examine Cumbria‘s regulator valve which was still passing large amounts of steam when supposedly shut. After much deliberation and wrestling with the valve it was concluded that there was still work to do to improve the seal between the valve faces.

Illingworth sets off from EmbsayAlso at Embsay was Russell Walker, who appeared with daughter Chloe and an Atkinson’s low loader to take Stephen Middleton’s 1916-built Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0ST Illingworth to Preston for attention to a hot right hand driving axle box, and then a booked appearance at the RSR’s Steam Gala at the end of September.

Russell also kindly brought over the regulator valves from both Respite and Shropshire for comparison with Cumbria‘s regulator. After further work by staff at Embsay, and with the help of Shropshire‘s regulator valve, Cumbria was passed fit on Sunday and should be back in traffic at Embsay this next weekend.

Back at Preston, FR 20 was shunted into the workshop on Wednesday and John Dixon made progress on removing the bolts from the chimney. With Mike Rigg and Paul Newton also in attendance there was also further progress on cleaning up FR 20’s tender.

Wheels out!Ade had a very  productive day on Wednesday, jacking Caliban further up in the air to allow both wheelsets to be rolled out from under the frames in readiness for machining of its journals. A key milestone in the project has been achieved so congratulations, Ade!

Keith, John and Matt Gervis were back in again at Preston on Thursday to continue the riveting of Wootton Hall‘s tender frames, but we’ll spare you another photo of rivets this week. They plan to be back again this next Thursday. Mike, Bob (welcome back from the high seas!), Fred and Roger appeared on Friday and there was further progress on cleaning up components and the painting of the exterior of the mess room.

FR 20's dome cover being swung away from the boilerAnd so to Saturday when there was an early start to enable Russell Walker to operate the crane to lift off FR 20’s chimney and dome cover before he set off for the control tower for the day. Alan, John, Tim and Sam spent the rest of the day dismantling and labelling pipework and cab fittings from FR 20 ready for cleaning and storage. John Dixon trims the studs for FR 20's dome coverJohn  is seen here removing excess thread from the dome studs in readiness for it to be lifted off also with the return of Russell at the end of the day.

Howard cleans up one of Claiban's axleboxesWith Howard (seen here cleaning one of Caliban’s axleboxes), David, Alison, Matthew, Derek and Neil (crewing Linda) also on site it was a good turnout of members.

Finally, Alan (driving Linda) and Alison were back on Sunday to round off another busy week. Yes, Sunday marked the first public run of Alison’s Cream Tea Specials, when 19 customers booked to travel on the RSR in the former FRT buffet car and sample Alison’s fare. It was a great success apparently and there are plans afoot for a further event in September.


Monday 13th August 2018

The pace of work and list of jobs to do seems to intensify whatever we do at the moment!

John Davis power washes FR 20's wheelsFR 20 was shunted out of the RSR’s running shed last Wednesday to enable the wheels to be power washed after having been coated with Jizer degreasing fluid. Although quite a time consuming process, the results so far have been heartening. The key issue was the need to avoid soaking those members who were also intent on removing components from the loco at the same time! John Davis is seen here with the power washer.

Alan Middleton dismantles pipework on FR 20Alan Middleton was one of those dodging the pressure washer to remove some pipework.

John Dixon panes new wood on one of GER No. 5's step boardsJohn Dixon spent some more time on repairs to the step boards on GER No. 5 and is seen here planing down the new wood inserts.

On Friday John Davis continued the task of needlegunning the inside of FR 20’s tender whilst Mike Rigg re-assembled the power washer which had done its best to shake itself to bits on Wednesday. Fred cleaning one of FR 20 injector steam valve handlesFred and Tim started the process of cleaning up the components removed from the loco before they are placed in store, with Fred here cleaning one of the injector steam valve handles.

New drain cock castings for FR 25Alan returned home from a short break away the previous weekend with a set of drain cock castings and coupling rod half bearing castings for FR 25 that he had picked up from Steve Andrews. Coupling rod half brasses for FR 25. Some old brasses also to be seen on the rightThese had been ordered by Bert Hitchen before his untimely death but we are now in a position to unite them with the loco.

FR 25's safety valvesFurther to this, Tim paid a visit to Crewe on Thursday to pick up the two safety valves for FR 25 from L&NWR where they had been found sitting on the shelves in the store. They were certainly too heavy for the luggage rack on the train journey home!

New rivets on Wootton Hall's tender framesAlso last Thursday, Keith, John Dixon and Matt Gervis had a productive day fitting more rivets on Wootton Hall’s tender frames.New rivets on Wootton Hall's tender drag box

Over at Embsay, Keith was on hand last Tuesday when 5643’s boiler was hydraulically tested to the satisfaction of the boiler surveyor after re-tubing and the fitting of some new patch screws. This opened the way for the re-assembly of the loco and a new brick arch was fitted on Saturday with further work programmed for yesterday.

Cumbria is still causing issues with the regulator continuing to pass steam when shut. This has caused an immense amount of frustration and bafflement. A working party visit to Embsay is provisionally planned for this next Wednesday to try and identify the cause of the problem.

The next stage in the  process of dismantling FR 20 is the removal of the chimney, dome and spectacle plate. It is planned for it to visit the RSR’s workshop this Saturday so that the overhead crane can be used to remove these items.

Looking forward to next weekend, Alison has her first Cream Tea Special booked for Sunday, 19th. There are still some seats available, so look at the RSR web site for details. You should also be able to view progress on the new playground at Preston where work on the final earthworks are due to commence tomorrow.


Monday 6th August 2018

The blog may have been off line for a holiday break for a couple of weeks but there has been plenty happening in the meantime.

Fr 25's boiler is lifted into position on the FR bogie bolster 010818Headline news has been the arrival at Preston last Wednesday of FR 25’s boiler, albeit as a kit of parts. Tim received news by email of the need to move the boiler from Stockton whilst he was out of telephone contact on holiday in Cornwall. It took three journeys to the top of the local hill to get reception and organise the move, which was done with great help from Jacqueline at Northern Steam Engineering who made the arrangement for a hi-ab to transport the components as a crane could not be guaranteed to be present at Preston. In the end, the boiler was loaded a day early last Tuesday and so made an early arrival at Preston on the Wednesday morning. Fortunately, the former Furness Railway bogie bolster had already been shunted into position and the hi-ab departed back off to the north east at 10.45.

Other parts of the FR 25 boiler jigsawThe other components were placed in the car park and will need to be moved this next Wednesday.

FR line up at PrestonDuring the ensuing shunt moves there was a rare sight captured with FR 20, the FR bogie bolster and two boilers which have adorned ex Furness Railway locos.

Dropping FR 20's waterWork has started on the overhaul of FR 20, with the ceremonial draining of the water from the boiler on the Wednesday the 18th July.

John Davis needlegunning FR 20's tender 030818Last Friday Tim started the job of cleaning down the driving wheels and John Davis commenced the task of de-scaling the coal space in the tender.

Fred in FR 20's smokeboxFred also took the opportunity to reprise his role as principal cleaner of FR 20’s smokebox!

John Dixon repairing the steps on GER 5John Dixon has continued to undertake woodwork repairs to the Great Eastern Royal Saloon and is seen here repairing one of the step boards.

Keith fettling the hanging plates for Wootton Hall's tender 010818Keith has made more progress with Wootton Hall‘s tender and has been fettling up the recently shot blasted tender hanging plates.

Keith sizes up the repairs to Wootton Hall's tender framesThere has been more riveting of the tender frames and Keith is seen here pondering the next move in the restoration.

Cumbria has been out of traffic at Embsay recently owing to excessive amounts of from steam passing through the regulator when it was closed. Many people have looked to solve the problem and Andy Booth appears to have come up with a likely answer requiring a small modification. Things were looking much better yesterday and it is hoped that it will be back in traffic soon. It is also hoped to undertake a formal hydraulic on 5643 this week. Keith and Fred paid a further visit yesterday and Keith is scheduled to return to Embsay tomorrow (Tuesday) to start the process of re-assembly.

Work has started on the new RSR playground 010818

Elsewhere at the Ribble Steam Railway a start was made last Wednesday on fitting out the new children’s playground. Groundworks are scheduled to take place from next Monday.

Sentinel wrapThe RSR’s Sentinel 0-4-0 Enterprise, which is in the museum as part of the Sentinel display, has received a wrap depicting  events over the last 50 years.

Glasshoughton's boiler returns from LlangollenThe boiler for Hunslet 0-6-0ST Glasshoughton No. 4 arrived back from Llangollen last Wednesday.

Tim moonlighting with the trams 050818Finally, an impressive 100ft long model tram layout returned to the RSR this last weekend and Tim is seen here doing some moonlighting, driving trams in between driving the steam service yesterday!


Monday 16th July 2018

The shot blasters returned to Preston last Wednesday to clean off some original angle steel for Wootton Hall and also to make a good start on two cabs, the first of which belongs to Caliban. Adrian paints Caliban's cabAdrian can be seen here starting the process of applying red oxide to the cleaned up cab.Aunt SallyMeanwhile Alan seemed pleased with the results of the shotblasting.

Roger painting Caliban's cabFred and Roger finished the job on Friday, but not before the cab had unfortunately been sprayed with the first rain in weeks! Fred working on Caliban's cabThe shotblasters should be returning this Wednesday to tackle the cab roof and also another cab that does not belong to the FRT.

The Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon now has two coats of varnish on it as well as the initial coat of gold size. One of the next jobs to be undertaken will be the replacement of the canvas roof, which has been leaking for some time. Only then will it make sense for the upholstery to be tackled. In the meantime, John Dixon has been repairing more of the droplights.

With FR 20 now out of ticket, both Pauls and John Davis were engaged last Wednesday with the task of emptying the tender of coal, ready for the painting process to be commenced. It is planned to undertake an initial wash out of the boiler this next Wednesday.

Keith has been making more progress with Wootton Hall‘s tender frames, drilling holes to enable the front hornguides to be attached. The planned riveting exercise last Thursday didn’t materialise owing to Matt Gervis being under the weather.

Over at Embsay, Andy Booth has completed the re-tube of 5643 and also the fitting of eight more patch screws. It was planned yesterday to start the process of conducting a hydraulic test on the boiler after which the front end (superheaters and header etc) will need to be re-assembled. Re-tubing 5643 with the boiler still in the frames has been an extremely tricky task, the completion of which has apparently surprised the owners of other 56XX locos  who reckoned that it couldn’t be done with the boiler still in the frames.

Cumbria‘s regulator has been giving problems of late and, when removed, has shown signs of scoring. Fortunately, the FRT has a spare which was destined for FR 25 and this has been taken across to Embsay to see if it will effect an early return to traffic. New innards for the fireman’s side injector have also been purchased and sent across to Embsay.

Next week sees the start of the main school holidays so there will be a break in the publication of the blog whilst the team get some R&R. We will return in two weeks, unless something major needs reporting to you, in which case it’ll be sooner!

Monday 9th July 2018

FR20 heads to Strand Road
Photo by Ian Hardman

Sunday 8th July 2018 has been in our diaries for a long time, as it was scheduled to be the last day of FR 20’s boiler certificate before its 10 year boiler lift and overhaul. For that reason the loco was scheduled to operate the trains on the Ribble Steam Railway on both the Saturday and Sunday, with excellent weather to hand – well we had had plenty of time to put in the request for it!

The end is nigh - last day in serviceSaturday was a little quiet (something to do with a football game!), but plenty of people, including many members and friends, came along to say “Goodbye” on Sunday. Coincidentally, Neil was able to spend his first full day on the footplate at Preston that day as he looks to regain his fireman’s ticket – at least he had a loco that he knew from times past.

Back on shed - the end of a seond ten years certificateSadly, after handling the train service and rake of three coaches without fuss, FR 20 retired to the shed at the end of service on Sunday afternoon in steam for the last time for a while. As Tim put it at this point: “finish with engines”.  We know from the large amount interest on the internet that everyone is willing the FRT to get the loco back in traffic as soon as feasibly possible.

There has again been steady progress in the FRT shed at Preston. Tim has been applying more gold size and varnish to Great Eastern Royal Saloon No. 5 whilst John Dixon and Mike have been undertaking repairs to droplights. John Dixon repairing one of GER No. 5's droplightsJohn is seen here cleaning out a droplight sill prior to reassembling it. Roger has started the job of sanding down and priming parts of the buffers and couplings.

With the weather far too hot to progress the painting of the exterior of the mess room, John Davis and Paul Newton undertook their own version of Scrapheap Challenge amongst the various paraphernalia near the FRT shed and found the remains of an L&NWR bench seat, which they are now interested in restoring.

Fred cleaning up 5643's regulator quadrantKeith has brought back some of 5643’s components from Embsay for fettling and Fred is seen here on Friday cleaning up the regulator quadrant. Keith was due to go over to Embsay on Sunday as he looks to get 5643 back in steam as quickly as possible.

Keith setting up the axleboxes in Wootton Hall's tender framesIn the meantime, Keith has been lining up Wootton Hall‘s tender axleboxes with the overhauled tender frames, seen here at work. A further riveting session is planned for Thursday.

Finally, for those of you who are wondering where latest edition of members’ magazine The Iron Horse has got to, we can tell you that Alan is currently sorting out the layout and choosing the photos in readiness for it to go to the printer.

Monday 2nd July 2018

Well the heat is definitely on, in more ways than usual, as we tackle the queue of jobs that we have at the moment.

The work on Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5 is proceeding at a steady pace as John Dixon fills the cracks in the teak panels and Tim applies more gold size and varnish.

Alan Ogden with the switch boxAlan Ogden has once again been tackling the instruments and smaller electrical items on Fluff and is seen here with a refurbished switch box.Fluff's refurbished electric switch box

At last, it came freeAde, Alan and Howard have been hard at it in their efforts to remove the final spring hanger pin on Caliban‘s frames. Suffice to say that plan Z didn’t produce immediate results, but lots of sweat and toil were duly expended and victory was eventually achieved.

Neat rivets on Wootton Hall's tender framesIt is pleasing to be able to report that the riveting session on Wootton Hall the previous Thursday had seen approximately 50 rivets installed, and evidence of a neat job is seen in this photo of a newly riveted bracket on the front portion of the frames.

Tender steps backing plates for Wootton hallBacking plates for the tender cab steps have also been bent to shape.

Front plate for Wootton HallAnd a newly fabricated and shaped plate is seen here on the frames in front of the boiler.

With all this progress being made on the project, Keith has, at not inconsiderable expense, now placed an order for two new live steam injectors for Wootton Hall with South Coast Steam of Portland, Dorset.

Alan Middleton has also been in touch with South Coast Steam, in this case to order new injector components for Cumbria‘s left hand injector to replace items which had become badly worn.

Last week’s AGM was unusually chaired by Neil in the absence of Tim, who was elsewhere to see son Matthew passed out as a Police Cadet. The meeting passed smoothly although took four minutes longer than the previous year – must have been something to do with Tim’s lengthy written report!

Railway band in a bus stationAlan, Tim and Pete Skellon successfully made it to the Bolton Station Community Gala on Saturday and, would you believe it, played railway songs in the bus interchange for half an hour! Must have been rail replacement songs! Both Alan and Pete had been disorganised in forgetting to take their mobile phones with them, but between you and us Alan also forgot to take a set of teeth – but we won’t tell anyone, will we?

Finally, FR 20 makes its last public appearance in steam at the Ribble Steam Railway this next Saturday and Sunday before its ten year boiler overhaul.

Monday 25th June 2018

Well, would you believe it? We’re half way already from last Christmas to the next! And, yes, we’ve mentioned the ‘C’ word this year in record early time!!

It has been very much a case of more of the same in terms of work at Preston this week.

Ade still trying to remove that spring hanger pinAde failed to score with Caliban‘s last spring hanger pin last Wednesday and is now looking for a plan Z for this week. We will, as ever, keep you posted.

John Dixon repairing a door on GER 5There is more varnish on GER No. 5 with still plenty more to apply once John Dixon has finished filling in all the remaining cracks in the woodwork. Meanwhile Mike and Paul Newton have been working on a plan to create a replica works plate for Rachel, Ken Nuttall’s petrol Simplex at Haverthwaite, for Roger who has been working on it for some time now.

John Davis has been back on the roof of the mess room with yet more paint and it is hoped to move down to the sides in the not too distant future, Fred having given them a good clean.

A last reminder that the AGM will be held in the shed at Preston tomorrow (Tuesday) evening at 19.30. Alison promises some home baking, so those attending please make sure you leave some room when having tea.

Finally, Alan, Tim and Pete, otherwise known as Live Steam, have been booked to appear on stage at the Bolton Station Community Rail Day next Saturday, provisionally from 3 pm until 4 pm, with their repertoire of railway songs.

Monday 18th June 2018

There’s plenty more progress to report at Preston this week.

Mike Rigg repairing a window frame from GER 5John Dixon has been moving around the Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5 filling in cracks on the teak panels whilst Mike Rigg has repaired one of the window frames.GER 5 with a coat of varnish on the north sideTim has continued the task of applying gold size and a first coat of varnish, which has been completed on the north side and east end.

Ade drilling that stubborn pinAdrian spent Wednesday trying to drill out the last remaining spring hanger pin on Caliban, but to no avail so far. So plan B is for next Wednesday, although Ade hasn’t yet told us what that may be.Howard and David with a spring hanger screw to removeHoward has been trying to release the retaining screws on top of the spring hangers and he is seen here with David applying plenty of pressure on a stubborn screw.

Keith drilling Wootton Halls tender framesMeanwhile Keith has been doing some more drilling on Wootton Hall‘s tender frames and is expecting Matt Gervis to appear on Thursday to start fitting some rivets. The NDT man is also expected this week to test the tender axles.

John Davis painting the mess room roofOutside the shed John Davis has been painting the mess room roof and, with the assistance of Fred, the outside is looking much cleaner in readiness for painting.

Owd Sue before breaking downA 1949 Duple bodied Bedford made an appearance for the RSR’s Beer and Cider Festival over the weekend, but unfortunately Owd Sue, as she is known, succumbed fairy early in the proceedings owing to the failure of a lift pump. A replacement bus was supplied very promptly by Coastal Coaches.

Alison with a cream teaFinally, we include a photo taken on the 27th May of Alison with one of her cream teas.