Monday 18th March 2024

Keith Brewer attends to 5643's right hand big endIt has been another week of steady progress on the overhaul of Great Western
Railway 0-6-2T locomotive No. 5643 at Preston. Keith was busy on
Wednesday making adjustments to the right hand big end, where unwanted
movement of the bearings had been detected during inspection.

John Dixon cleaning those parts of 5643 that others don't reachJohn Dixon has continued his quest to clean up and paint those areas of the
frames not usually visible to the public.

71 stay holes visible on the side of 5643's fireboxKeith has now started to drill out stays on the left hand side of the firebox; his
work on the right hand side so far can be seen here with 71 stay holes visible.

Anne and Phil Burton re-covering seats for GER 5 with horse chestnut leaf moquetteMore horse chestnut leaf patterned moquette for Great Eastern Railway royal
saloon No. 5 has arrived this week to enable Anne and Phil Burton to re-cover
all the wooden chair seats. These will match the chaise longue.

Elsewhere on the purchasing front, new cylinder liners for 5643 have been
sourced and ordered. They should be with us in late April if all goes to plan.

Photos of Fred Jones' lifeIt has been a sad day for the FRT as a good number of members gathered at a very full Crosscrake Church near Kendal for the funeral of long-standing volunteer Fred Jones. His family arranged a display of photos charting his life at the wake, including one of Fred with his favourite wire cup brushes.

Finally, on a brighter note, we are pleased to be able to report that former FRT Trustee and Treasurer David Rimmer is now out of hospital and is in temporary care at Huyton in preparation for moving home. We wish him well in his recovery.


Monday 11th March 2024

Keith Brewer scraping the white metal on one of 5643's axleboxesWork has continued with the overhaul of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643 with Keith seen here scraping in the white metal on one of the axleboxes.

Jon Dixon painting gloss black paint on to one of 5643's driving wheelsJon Dixon continued the beautification of the driving wheels which, after significant effort, are now rapidly becoming very black and shiny.

With the start of the Ribble Steam Railway’s operating season fast approaching, Ade transferred Furness Railway locomotive No. 20 and Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5 to the RSR running shed last Wednesday. Sam fits one of FR 20's mudhole doorsSam used the opportunity to fit the mudhole doors on FR 20 whilst it was over the pit.

John Dixon adjusts the guard's window on GER No. 5GER No. 5 had been advertised for use on the Mother’s Day train service, being fully booked throughout the day for the occasion. John Dixon made some last-minute adjustments to the window of the guard’s door.

Phil Burton prepares one of GER 5's seats to receive a temporary brown coverPhil and Anne Burton worked hard to put some temporary brown covers on the chairs to make them look uniform in appearance. Some more horse chestnut leaf moquette is on the way which will then enable the chairs to match the chaise longue in the east saloon.

A new steam heat pipe is fitted to GER No. 5Just before the departure of the first train on Sunday morning the flexible steam heat pipe on the east end of the saloon announced to all that it had come to end of its working life. Fortunately, it was possible to remedy this fairly quickly, the steam crew and John Dixon engineering a swap in a very efficient pit stop. This was just as well as there was a cool moderate breeze and rain that day.

Bagnall 0-6-0ST Courageous leave Preston Riverside on Sunday, 10th March with GER No. 5 behind itGER No. 5 is seen leaving Riverside Station behind Courageous. After the furore yesterday over the editing of a Royal Family photo it was decided not to edit out the unsightly bucket from this photo!

Alison takes a moment off to pose for a photo taken by Ade, who was driving Courageous on Mother's DayAde managed to take this photo of Alison during a short break from preparing GER No.5 for its next set of customers.

Finally, the arrangements for the funeral of long term volunteer Fred Jones, who sadly passed away on the 25th February after a short illness, have been confirmed. The service will take place at St Thomas’ Church, Crosscrake on Monday 18th March at 12.45pm. All are welcome.

Monday 4th March 2024

Jon and Sim Dixon enhancing the look of 5643's wheelsWork at Preston has again focussed on the heavy general overhaul of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643. Jon and Sim Dixon have been working on sprucing up the appearance of the driving wheelsets.

Paul Balshaw cleaning up one of 5643's pistonsPaul Balshaw has been cleaning one of the pistons.

Ed Tatham inside 5643's framesEd has been working inside the frames, viewed here through the left hand cylinder.

Ian Massey welding up 5643's boiler barrelIan Massey has completed his welding work on 5643’s boiler.

Allen Johnstone looks on as Keith drills out one 5643's staysAllen looks on as Keith drills out another of the 300 stays to be replaced.

Anne Burton cleans one of the seats in GER 5With Mother’s Day fast approaching, work has also been taking place to de-winterise Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5 so that it can be used on the 10th March. Anne Burton has been busy cleaning the upholstery and carpet.

John Dixon cleans a brass steam heat coupling for GER 5John Dixon is seen here cleaning a steam heat pipe brass coupling prior to moving it to a rather better pipe. This will then be fitted to GER5 which, for some reason, was missing a steam heat pipe at one end.

Caliban's new piston head being machined in one of RSR's lathesFinally, Caliban’s new piston head is seen here being machined in one of the lathes in the Ribble Steam Railway workshop.

Monday 26th February 2024

We are very sorry to have to start this week’s blog with the very sad news that Fred Jones, a long-time member of the Trust and regular volunteer at Preston, passed away peacefully in Lancaster Royal infirmary last night. As readers of this blog will be aware, Fred suffered a medical problem recently and we were all hoping that we would see him back again at Preston in the not-too-distant future. However, Fred was taken into Lancaster Royal Infirmary last week for tests after continuing to feel unwell.

Fred Jones about to start with a new wire brushFred loved railways and thoroughly enjoyed working both at Haverthwaite and at Preston, taking on board the many less glamourous jobs, particularly  of cleaning and painting components. He is pictured above after having worn out yet another cup wire brush. He will be very much missed by us all. Our thoughts are with daughter, Helen, son Andrew and family.

Ian Massey making the sparks flyWork on the overhaul of 5643 has continued this last week with Ian Massey paying us another visit on Wednesday when he completed his work on the tubeplate of 5643’s boiler. Ian is seen making sparks fly as he grinds off excess weld.

Keith and Jimmy with 5643's front right axleboxJimmy Dutton has re-metalled 5643’s front right axlebox and is seen here with Keith ready for the axlebox to be machined.

Dave Reynolds inspects wear on 5643's radial horn guidesElsewhere on 5643, Dave Reynolds has been inspecting the radial horn guides for wear.

The new baffle for GER No. 5's water boilerJohn Dixon has produced a baffle for the hot water boiler in the kitchen of Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5 to prevent scalding hot water overtopping the urn. The coach is due to be in service for Mother’s Day so a number of winter jobs are now being completed for the occasion.

Tim finding some more imperfections on Wootton Hall's tenderFollowing last week’s photo of the first coat of green undercoat on the left-hand tender side of Great Western Railway ‘Hall’ class 4-6-0 No. 4979 Wootton Hall, Tim has been inspecting the surface closely to identify and fill any imperfections.

John Davies cleans the copper cap to Fluff's chimneyJohn Davies has been cleaning the copper cap for Fluff’s chimney.

Finally, there was concern this last week when we were unable to contact former Treasurer and Trustee David Rimmer. However, David has now been in touch to say that he has been in hospital. We wish David a speedy recovery.

Monday 19th February 2024

Things are getting back to normal now we hope with a more consistent publication of the blog following illness.

John Dixon applying grey undercoat paint to 5643's spring hanger boltsWork has continued on the overhaul of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643. John Dixon has been giving the spring hanger bolts a good clean and several coats of paint.

Sim and Jon Dixon applying high temperature black paint to 5643 steam chest and smokebox saddleSim (left) and Jon Dixon are seen here giving the exterior of the steam chest and smokebox saddle a coat of high temperature black paint.

Wootton Hall's chimney castingWe now have a first blog photo of the new chimney casting for Great Western Railway ‘Hall’ class 4-6-0 No. 4979 that was recently supplied by the Severn Valley Railway. The casting will need to be machined and the familiar GWR copper top fitted.

Wootton Hall's tender has received its first coat of undercoat greenMeanwhile Tim, after much filling and sanding, has been giving the left-hand side of Wootton Hall’s tender tank a coat of green undercoat paint. There is still more work to do though before the former ’ploughed field’ surface is ready to receive a top coat of paint.

Phil Burton giving one of the picture frames a polishWork on Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5 continues with Phil Burton cleaning up the two bronze royal picture frames that will be fitted to the coach.

Half done, the top and left hand side of the picture frame can be seen gleaming.The top and left-hand side of the frame can be seen gleaming here.

John Dixon sampling some of the birthday cake on offerFinally, it has been a bumper week for cake in the mess room this week with both Keith and Alan celebrating birthdays. John Dixon is seen here tucking in to a portion of cake…

Alan enjoying some of his birthday cake… while Alan had a small birthday celebration at Preston on Saturday and is seen here with some of his own cake.

Monday 12th February 2024

Apologies once again for the inconsistent publication of the blog. We are hoping that the effects of the winter ailments are now mainly behind us!

First of all this week, a big thanks to all those of you who have made such generous donations to the Trust whilst renewing membership over the past couple of months. With so much potentially expensive work going on at the moment it is really very heartening to have such support from members. It is very much appreciated.

The overhaul of 5643 has continued apace with the coded welder Ian Massey paying a visit last Wednesday to commence work on 5643’s boiler, focussing on some wastage at the bottom of the front tubeplate. A further two visits are expected in the coming weeks to finish the tasks requested by the boiler surveyor.

Ron Crowe drills out one of the firebox staysRon Crowe is pictured here drilling out one of the firebox backplate stays, one of 300 stays to be renewed.

The newly purchased die chasersA set of special die chasers has been purchased for the purpose of manufacturing new stays.

Jon Dixon cleans 5643's smokebox saddleWork has also continued on cleaning and painting the frames and attachments with Jon Dixon seen here cleaning the bottom of the smokebox saddle prior to painting with high temperature paint.

Refurbished 'J' cock for 5643Finally, Keith has picked up from one of our machinists the refurbished ‘J’ cock, one of 5643’s cab fittings, the original body for which having been unfortunately damaged during the process of dismantling.

Monday 29th January 2024

Apologies for the lack of a blog over the past couple of weeks. Unfortunately, a member of the blog team has been knocked by an extended Christmas lurgy that seems to be doing the rounds. However, we are pleased to be able to report that others have escaped illness and that work has continued apace at Preston over the past few weeks.

Phil Bell working on 5643's fireboxAs ever, most of the resources have been devoted to the continuing overhaul of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643. Phil Bell and John Davis have been grinding down the exterior heads of the stays that need to be renewed on the boiler and Keith has been in the firebox to attack the stays from that direction. The result is that Ron Crowe has now drilled out and removed the first stay with many still to come!

Ed Tatham working inside 5643's framesOther members have been busy continuing the work of cleaning and painting the frames, including Ed…

Jon Dixon painting one of 5643's wheels… while Jon Dixon has been wielding the paintbrush on the wheels.

Another step forward with the overhaul of 5643 has been the white metalling of the front right hand brass by Keith and Jimmy Dutton, which has now been located in the axlebox ready for machining

Chair being re-upholstered for GER No. 5Anne and Phil Burton have continued their work on the chairs from Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5, a photo here showing one of the chairs reupholstered in horse chestnut leaf moquette as an example of how they would look with this pattern.

Whilst most of the recent attention has been concentrated on 5643, we are pleased to be able to report that the purchase of a second coupling rod for Great Western Railway ‘Hall’ class 4-6-0 locomotive No. 4979 Wootton Hall has been concluded and also that a brand new chimney arrived last Monday, having been supplied by the Severn Valley Railway.

Newly arrived Peckett 0-4-0ST No. 2103 of 1950Finally, elsewhere at the Ribble Steam Railway site, Peckett 0-4-0ST No. 2013 of 1950 has arrived, having been purchased by Furness Railway Trust member Jimmy Dutton, who also owns Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0ST Linda.

Monday 8th January 2024

A belated Happy New Year to all our readers!

We are pleased to be able to report that progress has continued on projects over the Christmas and New Year period, even though some of our volunteers have been struck down by the Christmas lurgy.

5643's frames being cleaned and repaintedThe cleaning and repainting of the main frames of 5643 has continued, assisted by the frames being jacked up to release the radial truck wheels which are now ready for despatch for reprofiling of the tyres.

The new drawers for GER No. 5 being stained and varnishedPhil Bell has been producing replacement drawers for Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5, the wood for which has been stained and received its first coat of varnish.

John Davis refitting Fluff's brake blocksPhil and John Davis have also been re-assembling Fluff’s brake hangers and brake blocks.

Members should now have received their copy of the latest edition of The Iron Horse, although some are in the mess room for collection by regular working members. The facility for online payment for subscriptions has made a good start and the receipt of a number donations towards the Trust’s projects is very heartening. Thanks to you all.

Live Steam in action on New Year's EveFinally, our folk group, Live Steam, made its annual New Year’s Eve appearance at the Engine Inn, Cark-in-Cartmel with George coming up from Derby to assist Alan, Tim and Pete. Despite Pete and Tim being under the weather, the evening seemed to go down well with the audience and a useful addition to funds was earned.

Monday 18th December 2023

Keith looks on as Adam Wright inspects 5643's boilerOur boiler surveyor, Adam Wright, visited the FRT shed at Preston on Friday to inspect the boilers of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643 and Peckett 0-4-0ST Caliban. There was good news and bad news with the verdict on 5643 being pretty positive. It had already been planned to renew the 5/8” boiler stays, which was agreed with Adam along with some protective surface welding of the front tubeplate and a few sections of the boiler barrel. Adam is seen above inspecting the interior of the firebox through one of the large mudholes.

Unfortunately, the platework on Caliban’s inner firebox was deemed to be too thin to allow a ten year boiler certificate to be issued and the options for a new inner firebox will now be investigated.

Fortunately, this news didn’t spoil the FRT’s annual Christmas dinner that evening at the Ribble Pilot pub alongside Preston’s Dock. Our thanks go to Alison for organising it.

John Dixon paints one of the suction hose hangersElsewhere, John Dixon has been catching up with a couple of jobs. Firstly, he has been preparing some steel hangers for the fire pump suction pipes, which should help to keep them safe and away from potential damage.

John Dixon attending to heat damage on FR20's wooden boxSecondly, John has been attending to the wooden box which sits on FR 20’s running plate alongside the right hand smokebox. The box had sustained some heat damage whilst the locomotive was running up the steep gradients at Blaenavon, which is now being rectified. For similar reasons, Tim has now completed the re-painting of the smokebox door and the right hand side of the smokebox.

Sam cleaning the inside of one of 5643's wheels.The lifting of 5643’s frames has allowed access for cleaning the back of the wheels. Sam is seen here busy cleaning one of the wheels.

Alan is wheeled away from one of the Santa Specials by AlisonTim and Alan had hoped for some relief from the playing of Christmas songs on the RSR’s Santa Specials through the offer of help from Graham and Bernadette Dixon. Unfortunately, both Graham and Bernadette both went down with ‘flu after the second weekend and so Tim and Alan had to complete the final weekend on their own. Alan is seen here being wheeled away for recovery by Alison after performing on the second train on Sunday.

Sam on top of Courageous's' cab after the last train on Sunday, 17th DecemberFinally, Sam (pictured right) had his first firing turn on a Santa Special and is seen here with the rest of the crew waiting for a group photo to be taken.

With both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day taking place on Mondays, it has been decided to continue with the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday format for working parties over the Christmas and New Year period – so no let up there!

We leave you this week with very best wishes to all our readers for a great Christmas and New Year. (No, there won’t be a blog next Monday!!) A reminder here that, folk group Live Steam will be playing at the Engine Inn, Cark-in-Cartmel, on New Year’s Eve.

Tuesday 12th December 2023

As we head towards the end of yet another year, members at Preston have
continued to catch up with a number of jobs, mainly on the small side this

AW & Co clearly marked on 5643's radial truckThe cast frame for Great Western Railway 0-6-2T 5643’s radial truck
has been cleaned and painted. Both axleboxes are marked with 66XX
numbers whilst the casting was clearly manufactured by Armstrong
Whitworth of Newcastle upon Tyne, who built the last 50 of the 56/66XX
classes, 6650 to 6699.

Phil Burton sanding a donated chairThe Trust has been donated a number of chairs for Great Eastern Railway
royal saloon No. 5 which Phil Burton has been sanding down.

This next Friday is an important date in the calendar as our boiler surveyor is
coming to Preston at 8am to inspect the boilers of 5643 and Peckett 0-4-0ST
Caliban. There will be discussions as to the extent of the work required during
the overhaul of each of the boilers. 15 members are then due to sit down that evening for the annual FRT Christmas dinner.

Talking of Christmas, the Ribble Steam Railway’s Santa Specials have been
running fully booked and a further five trains are due to operate next Saturday
and Sunday. Alan and Tim, who have previously provided all the Christmas
music on board the trains, have this year been joined by Graham and
Bernadette Dixon, which has lightened the load considerably.