Monday 2nd October 2017

Yet another busy week has passed by – well we don’t really want too many quiet times, but the occasional rest would be useful…!

5643 passed its cold inspection with the boiler surveyor on  Thursday, and Keith and George were planning to head over to Embsay yesterday (Sunday) to refit the safety valves, washout plugs and mudhole doors. Steve Shearing machines the new blower ring for 5643Meanwhile, Steve Shearing has been spending many hours in the workshop at Preston machining the new blower ring and elbow in readiness for fitting before the steam test. This has been quite a challenge to accomplish in time and it is hoped that it will be ready to fit on Wednesday before the fire is lit! A steam test has been scheduled for Thursday afternoon after which a new brick arch will have to be fitted before the loco leaves Embsay on Monday morning for its visit to the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway over the following two weekends.

The RMB has been spending its last week in the heated part of the shed as a move into the unheated part has been arranged for today, Monday. The TPO coach waiting a move into the FRT shedIts place will be taken by the RSR’s Post Office Sorting vehicle No. 80377 which was recently purchased from the Kirklees Light Railway and is planned to be used as an exhibit in the museum. Built in 1972, the vehicle was withdrawn from service in 2004. Whilst, on the surface, it does not appear to be in too bad a condition, there will be plenty of tidying up to do on the bodywork before it can be painted.

The various snagging jobs on the RMB were the subject of further work this week, and here we have to confess that a previous blog report that John Dixon had nearly finished replacing the panelling and beading around the doors was proven to be incorrect. John was keen to point out that such jobs take rather longer than people think and the blog team profusely apologises for belittling the task!

Mike making the RMB light upA shore electrical supply was  connected to the RMB so that the lights could be tested. Although many of them were not working initially, this was mainly because of dirty contacts. By the time that Mike Rigg had finished his work only one light bulb actually had to be changed. John Davis cleaning the metalwork in the RMBJohn Davis (seen here) and Paul carried on the other jobs inside the RMB including polishing the brasswork, which had obviously not seen a cleaning rag for many a year.

Adrian continued his work with a paintbrush on Caliban, giving a coat of black to the reverser quadrant whilst John H and Alan attended to other important jobs such as making a decision on the main colour scheme for the loco. The trouble with having so many choices is that you can't make up your mind!At Adrian’s request Tim had brought in a pile of colour charts as Ade has hopes of painting the wheels in the not too distant future. Having brought the number of shades of blue down to a choice of three, Alan and John finally opted to be contrary by choosing ‘Pacific Blue’ for a 0-4-0 saddle tank loco!

Wootton Hall‘s tender frames are now perched on a custom built steel stand constructed by Keith from some scrap RSJs which had been acquired. Roger and Fred turned up very late on Friday having been stuck on the M6 for a couple of hours north of Preston. Roger put a coat of grey undercoat on Wootton Hall‘s brake beams whilst Fred went cleaning up the former Foxfield water column.

The RSR’s Autumn Diesel Gala was successful and was augmented by the addition of a visiting DRS Class 37, which came down from Kingmoor at Carlisle. There was also some evening running in conjunction with a Folk Evening in the cafe which Alison had organised to raise funds for the new children’s playground, with music being provided by Fleetwood Folk Club. The whole event turned out to be a great success, so well done to Alison, to all those who provided the music, the front of house staff and, of course, the diesel gang who ran the trains. There is already talk of another similar event next year.

Last Thursday afternoon Tim went across to Locomotion at Shildon on behalf of the FRT to attend a Stakeholder Reception to mark the takeover of Locomotion by the Science Museum Group (SMG). The museum had previously been run as a partnership between Durham County Council and the National Railway Museum. It was announced that Durham County Council is to fund the conservation of the Grade 1 listed coal drops, which have been fenced off because of a deterioration in their condition. Ian Blatchford, Director of the SMG, then confirmed that the SMG is going to spend £1.6m on conserving the historic buildings at the Hackworth end of the site and that he had aspirations to spend more money on telling the story of Shildon’s contribution to the early days of railway operation. It was all very uplifting!

Next weekend sees Alan and Alison also head once again over the Pennines to Locomotion at Shildon for a couple more FR 20 steamings in connection with the Shildon Model Railway Exhibition.

Monday 25th September 2017

This last week brought the sad death of David Shepherd CBE. David was a man of passion, who made his name by bringing to life on canvas wild animals (particularly elephants) aeroplanes and steam locomotives. He befriended us many years ago through member Derek Milby and, as a result of this, famously gave a lecture at the Coronation Hall in Ulverston. His double-decker sales bus appeared in the Lakes on more than one occasion and he delighted in joining us for a musical evening on Roger Mallinson’s steam launch Shamrock on Windermere. We also made several exchange visits down to the East Somerset railway at Cranmore where some renowned and very liquid folk evenings were held in the village hall. An avowed conservationist of both wildlife and steam locomotives, the world will be very much the poorer for David’s passing.

Last Tuesday evening saw a gathering at the Ashton Bowling Club for the Ribble Steam Railway AGM at which Tim, Alison and fellow FRT member David Starkie were elected as directors of the RSR. Tim then presented a photo presentation entitled “The Activities of the Furness Railway Trust”, which was followed by some slides of Steamport at Southport. An evening of some nostalgia for all!

John D fixing a strap to the fire extinguisher holderWe were delighted to welcome new member John Davis at Preston on Wednesday – he must have enjoyed it as he turned up again with a new set of overalls on Friday. Mine's a pint!John is seen here by the RMB bar with Mike Rigg, who did the induction.

John attending to yet more panelling adjacent to a doorIt was again a time of finishing all the remaining snagging jobs in the RMB with John Dixon still working on restoring some of the wooden panelling by the doors, Paul replacing the servery area cupboard shelves, Mike starting to replace the ceiling fans and John Davis assisting with some of the other fittings.Paul attending to the archway adjacent to the buffet

Beware: Ade brandishing a paint brushThere was further work on Caliban, with Alan turning his attentions to the cab and Ade wielding a paintbrush on the running board.

Bob appeared on Friday and spent some time taking a rubbing of the numbers stamped on Wootton Hall‘s tender frames which had been found after the shot blasting had taken place. The exact number of the tender has always been a mystery and Bob will be making contact with a gentleman in Swindon who has been keeping tabs on this particular vehicle with a view to identifying it. Keith was also present to make further progress on the loco.

Alan at Shildon's Steam Punk eventAlan and Alison went across to Locomotion at Shildon yet again, it being the annual Steam Punk weekend at which people delight in dressing up in all sorts of incredible garb. Steam Punk is defined as being retro-futuristic and FR 20 probably fits quite neatly into the scene, although we are not sure how you should view the two coach Pacer passing in the background!

As many of you will be aware, the Trust’s GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643 is currently out of service for its 14 month boiler examination. In preparation for this, the brick arch has been removed and Andy Booth has put in twenty new patch screws. Keith and George were going over to Embsay yesterday, Sunday, to remove the remaining plugs and mudhole doors ready for a cold examination by the boiler surveyor, which we hope will take place this week. It is planned to fit the new blower ring, which is currently being machined by Steve Shearing at Preston, next weekend and then hold a formal steam test the following week. So, fingers crossed!

Finally, it is reported by the latest Cumbrian Railways Association newsletter that the former Vickers Gun Range signal box, which was gifted to the Wensleydale Railway Association by the FRT a few years ago, will be moved from Scruton to Leyburn where it will be used to control the movement of trains following the planned installation of a passing loop there. As many of you will be aware, the signal box was originally preserved by FRT member Jon Wilkinson, who himself gifted the signal box to the FRT.

Monday 18th September 2017

Working parties at Preston last week were rather more thinly attended, but still the work went on.

John has now nearly finished fitting trimmings around the doors of the RMB.Mike vacuuming the buffet shelvesMike has been busy cleaning the shelves behind the counter.

Paul painting one of the heater guardsPaul painted the remaining radiator guards (one of them new) which were then fitted along with the remaining tables. Mike then turned his attentions to vacuuming the seats.

Work continued on Caliban and Fred did more cleaning up of the former Foxfield water column. Fred working on the water columnKeith has been cutting spare metal to make new support stands for Wootton Hall‘s tender frames.

Alan, Tim and Alison went over to Shildon last Friday for Locomotion’s Autumn Steam Gala which was well attended by the public. BR Class 2
2-6-0 No. 78018, the star of British Transport Films’ classic “Snowdrift at Bleath Gill”, was back on former home ground and on show in light steam along with Flying Scotsman, which arrived on Friday evening having hauled an excursion form London Victoria to York. It was a bit of a surprise to find long standing FRT member Jon Wilkinson in the cab, having volunteered to join the locomotive’s support crew during its operation at the West Somerset Railway earlier in the week.

Saturday saw FR 20 work the demonstration line service until 2.15 pm after which there was time to top up with water and for Flying Scotsman to back on to the other end of the two brake van train. The giant 4-6-2 and rather smaller 0-4-0 then hauled the demonstration train up and down from 3 pm until 5.45.

It was then time to head off to the local hostelry for food, accompanied by the four strong Flying Scotsman support crew before retiring for an early night. Alan, Alison and Tim were, not surprisingly, pretty tired after the day’s activities.

Peter and Dickon joined the fray on Sunday morning, helping to clean FR 20 after the night’s rain and the loco once again operated the demonstration line service until 1 pm and then topping and tailing with Flying Scotsman from 2 pm until close of play. Heavy rain showers brought the unusual sight of the FR 20 crew soldiering on in the rain under the conveniently borrowed NRM umbrellas – it looked like something from a Roland Emmett sketch. The relationship formed with the FS crew the previous evening enabled Alan and Tim to enjoy some cab swapping later on Sunday, ending a most enjoyable weekend during which hundreds of passengers were carried.

Alan and Alison are heading off to Shildon again next weekend for Locomotion’s now very popular annual Steampunk event.

We leave you this week with a photo unashamedly shared from the Locomotion Facebook page showing a little old Furness Engine in the distance, formerly of a school playground in Barrow, hauling the mighty Flying Scotsman and train under a dramatic rainbow. Yes, dreams really can come true!Somewhere under the rainbow

Monday 11th September 2017

Any planning of work for last Wednesday’s working party at Preston went out of the window when we learnt that morning that it was proposed to have a shunt of vehicles in the shed.

It had previously been agreed that Caliban‘s frames would be moved on to road two and that the newly shot blasted and painted tender frames for Wootton Hall would be moved behind the RMB buffet coach on road three. And so it all came about along with the movement of Peckett 0-4-0ST John Blenkinsop into the paint shop from road two, to be replaced by Hunslet 0-6-0ST Kingsley.

John preparing Caliban's axleboxesNeedless to say, work had to start quickly on preparing Caliban‘s frames, including oiling the axleboxes which John is seen here undertaking along with a photo of it in its new position. Caliban's frames in their new positionThe RMB out in the open for the first time since repaintThis was a chance to photograph the repainted buffet car out in the open and also the Class 47 cab which Dave and Jo have been preparing for the museum. The Class 47 cab out for some fresh air during the shuntIt was also possible to photograph Wootton Hall without the RMB in front of it.Wootton Hall exposed

The tender frames are seen here in their new position in the shed.The tender frames inside for the first time in over fifty years

Well done to Ribble Rail’s Phil and Mike for getting the shunt carried out in a day.

Friday was then spent removing the accommodation bogies from under the tender frames, giving the shed floor a good clean and setting up a display of FRT work and sales tables before the sheds doors were opened officially to the public for the first time for the Heritage Open Days on Saturday and Sunday.

The shed open to the publicThere was a constant flow of visitors to the shed, with a mix of enthusiasts attending the RSR’s Autumn Steam Gala and other members of the public following the Heritage Open Days trail around Preston. Around three hundred people visited the shed and Alison recruited four new members as well as making many sales.

2890 ready to depart with its first train after restorationThe Saturday was also a milestone event for the restoration of Andy Booth’s converted Hunslet ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0 No. 2890, which made its passenger hauling debut at Preston on the 14.45 train. 2890 double heading on SundayConsidering that the boiler had only been placed in the frames in the last ten days, this was quite an achievement and a great birthday present for its owner.

Next week sees Alan, Alison and Tim heading over to Shildon for Locomotion’s Autumn Steam Gala where Furness Railway No. 20 is due to be top and tailing the demonstration line train with some whippersnapper LNER 4-6-2 locomotive called Flying Scotsman… 

Monday 4th September 2017

Last week was the last of the summer holidays for many with children, but that didn’t stop some of the older generation from taking a break as well. So we were without Alan, Adrian and Keith last Wednesday, but this did not stop progress being made in various directions.

The cabin now has a glossy shine to itWith the weather looking reasonable last Wednesday, John and Tim applied a gloss coat of paint to the side of the new mess room that will be up against the shed wall when it is moved, hopefully some time in September. For those worried about painting the door, it swings inwards and so can be painted at any time!

The RMB servery area almost back in one pieceMike and Paul have continued work on the interior of the RMB with the servery heater guards being fitted and a new heater guard for one of the saloons being finished off and painted. John has been replacing some of the architraves around the doors where they have been damaged during the welding repairs.

Howard working on one of Caliban's sand boxesDespite the absence of other members of the team, Howard has continued his efforts to repair Caliban‘s sanding gear and can be seen here with one of the sand boxes.

Work continues on painting the tender framesFred and Roger have continued their task of painting Wootton Hall‘s tender frames, which are now beginning to look very smart, and Keith also appeared on Friday to carry on his work on the running plate.

Ready for the Heritage Open DaysDavid has made up a presentation board recording Wootton Hall‘s history in readiness for the opening up of the shed for the Heritage Open Days this next weekend. John making a stand for David's Wootton Hall presentationJohn is seen here making it some legs. Do come along this weekend to see progress. And don’t forget, it is also the Ribble Steam Railway’s Autumn Steam Gala.

Tuesday 29th August 2017

Just like the dustbin collections, the blog has been delayed this week by a day owing to the Bank Holiday…

Alan, John H and Adrian appeared again last Wednesday to continue their good works on Caliban. Alan spent some time attending to the rusted areas on Caliban‘s cab.

John D started to compile his snagging list for the interior of the RMB and searched for various missing bits of wood to complete repairs. John at work on the new cabinHe then joined Tim on Friday to complete the rub down on the east facing wall of the new cabin and to apply a layer of dark grey undercoat. Undercoat completeIt is hoped to be able to put on the top coat this next Wednesday, which should match the RMB’s roof colour. David came in on Saturday to clear away the stones and earth from around the bottom of the cabin to allow access.

Mike and Paul fitted extracted some stubborn broken screws from the servery area foot rest and then fitted it along with the table. It’s all beginning to look very smart.

Fred and Roger hard at it with paint brushesFred and Roger have been hard at it with paint brushes again on the tender frames. Keith drilling more holes in the new piece of running plateKeith, meanwhile has been drilling more holes in the new running plate for Wootton Hall.

The 14 month boiler certificate for 5643 has now expired so Keith is looking to form a working party for next weekend to start on the necessary work to enable it to gain a new certificate. Please let Keith know if you are available to lend a hand.

Andrew Furness and Derek Milby visited Preston last Saturday and Andrew donated a new petrol driven pressure washer that should be very useful.

Finally, Alan and Alison have gone off on a short break to Cromer and called in at Shackerstone on Sunday for a ride behind Cumbria. What a great looking loco!Alan with CumbriaThey also visited Rocks by Rail for a ride in the FRT’s LMS brake van.

Monday 21st August 2017

Another inter-holiday news burst for you before things get back to normal…!

We are sorry to have to start by recording the passing of Jim Jackson (“Captain Birdseye” to some), former skipper of the MV Teal on Windermere who died at St Mary’s Hospice, Ulverston, on the 27th July at the age of 88. Jim served on the Windermere steamers for 42 years, following his father, also Jim, into the business. Those crewing trains on the L&HR could always expect a wave from the bridge from Jim followed, perhaps, by a pithy comment which kept you on your toes. Jim married Pam, who worked on the admin side of the steamer operation, and they lived at Railway Cottages, Newby Bridge, Jim’s home since the age of four. Our thoughts are with Pam and family at this sad time.

The tender frames during the process of receiving a coat of primerThere has again been more progress at Preston, the highlight being the shot blasting of the tender frames, which have now also been primed, with most available working members lending a hand with the paint brush. John and Fred painting the tender frames from Wootton HallThe frames are now in the process of receiving undercoat paint. Wootton Hall's freshened up front buffer beamWork has also continued on Wootton Hall‘s engine, with more of the replacement metal for the running board being cut and the buffer beam being filled, sanded and primed; the latter will enable the buffers to be bolted on again. And Matt has been busy making new nuts for the cylinder and valve studs.

Paul re-installs the buffet counter doorThe cupboards and bum rest re-installed in the RMBThe RMB, lino laying now completed, has received further attention from Mike and Paul who have re-installed the buffet sliding door and the cupboards and “bum rest” in the servery area.

Adrian cleaning the inside of one of Caliban's sand boxesHoward with John H as he takes a break from cleaning Caliban's cab.There has been more attention given to Caliban, with Adrian working on the frames and sand boxes, John H in the cab, and Howard on the sanding gear.

Ed Tatham, Phil Preston and Keith Brewer levelling track on road three of the shedMore progress has also been made with levelling the track on road three of the unheated portion of the shed, with Ed, Phil and Keith seen here.

Finally, Alan and Tim were at Shildon on Friday for a training session on the new rule book and newly issued procedures. There then followed a further practical assessment on FR 20. The locomotive was again used on Saturday for more crew assessments as well as for operating a passenger service.

Wednesday 9th August 2017

A quick inter-holiday blog update for you before Neil goes on vacation. And there has been plenty happening at Preston to cover.

John unrolls the last piece of lino for the RMBJohn is seen above unrolling the last piece of lino for fitting in the RMB, which he completed today. Well done! It looks great!

There has been more work on Caliban with Alan, John H, Howard and Adrian to the fore. Caliban's cab retrieved for sand blastingThe cab has been brought round to the shed in case there is time to sand blast it tomorrow with Wootton Hall‘s tender frames. The cab attracted some atttentionAs you will see from the photo, it attracted some interest and Alan is seen making some modifications to the bunker.Alan removing the internal bunker

Howard has been cleaning up threads on the sanding gear.

Newly cut running plate for Wootton HallThere has been more work also on Wootton Hall where Keith has been cutting new plate to replace the running boards above the cylinders, which had corroded beyond economic repair. Fred has again been cleaning components.

Matt Bedford running a die nut down Wootton Hall's studs for the left hand cylinderMatt Bedford has been continuing the task on running a die nut over the studs for the cylinder cover.

The reverser handle casting for Wootton HallA new reversing handle casting for Wootton Hall has appeared, purchased from the Betton Grange team. No doubt Keith would appreciate any contributions towards the cost..

Inside the new mess roomWe show a first photo of the interior of the new mess facility. Plans are being made to re-site it and have it plumbed in, hopefully in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, we have taken delivery of some surplus chairs from the RSR which will be used in the mess room and also for future meetings at Preston.

Looking forward, it is now planned to steam FR 20 for training purposes at Shildon on the 18th and 19th August. Also, a Folk evening is being planned at the RSR for the Saturday evening of the Diesel Gala, 30th September – further details will be published when the event is finalised.

Monday 31st July 2017

The blog is back in business after a short break for holidays. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone has had time off!

First we return to the acquisition of the new portable office where, at last, we have been able to obtain the keys to be able to enter the building for the first time. There is a certain analogy here to the TV programme “Storage Hunters” (no, we don’t watch it either), where people bid to buy locked containers full of “stuff”, which may or may not have some value. Whilst the main point of purchasing the portable office was to provide future messing facilities for the Trust’s volunteers, we had no idea what may have been left inside, hence the appeal in the previous blog for tables and chairs etc. When the door was finally opened there was a pleasant surprise, for the office still contained chairs and melamine topped tables, as well as a filing cabinet and wipe boards. So thanks to those who answered the plea with the offer of chairs, but it appears that we are OK for the moment. Just to top everything off, one of our members has very generously donated a brand new fridge freezer to start off the acquisition of kitchen facilities. Fantastic! No doubt there will be plenty of space now to display Alison’s collection of fridge magnets!

But back to work. John happy at his workJohn has continued his lino laying in the RMB and should hopefully move into the servery area this next week, where the melamine panels and metal beading strips are now securely in place after attention from Mike and Paul. Mike screwing in beadingPaul fixing a door runnerAfter screwing in the beading, Paul has been cleaning up the corner cupboards and assisting Tim with replacing a sliding door runner and with refitting the door itself. David has also removed the buffet door and bottom runner ready for the new lino.

Alan, John H and Adrian have again been busy on Caliban, with Adrian continuing to find places on the frames to attack with the needle gun and angle grinder. Alan has been investigating the condition of the cylinders and Howard now has some steel bar to enable him to make up the sanding actuators.

Fred cleaning one of Wootton Hall's brake beamsFred has again been busy cleaning some of Wootton Hall‘s brake components…. Roger applying a die nut to one of Wootton hall's brake beams…whilst Roger has been cleaning up the threads on the end of the brake beams using a rather unconventional bench to support them! George has, amongst other things, been needle gunning the running plate. Matt has been cleaning up threads on the studs for the cylinder covers whilst Keith has continued to fit lubrication pipework.

Alan Ogden with Fluff's refurbished ammeterfluff's refurbished ammeter We mustn’t forget the continuing work on Fluff where Alan Ogden has finished refurbishing the ammeter.

Alison and Alan had a weekend away in West Cumbria and look what came along the street in Maryport a week last Saturday – the Ratty’s “Train from Spain” hauled by a showman’s engine with a familiar looking minder err doing the minding! Maryport street findLooking forward, Alan and Alison are due to head off to Shildon this next weekend for FR 20’s next steamings and a person has been engaged to sand blast Wootton Hall‘s tender frames on the 10th August.

Monday 17th July 2017

The FRT's new homeWe start this week with the news that the Trustees have agreed the purchase of the portable office on the Ribble Steam Railway site, close to the FRT shed, that was formerly used by the Amber Trains training company. The acquisition of such a building for a mess room had been planned for some time, but the project has been on hold waiting for space alongside the shed to be cleared. The fact that this building is already on site and would otherwise have been returned to the hirer meant that a deal beneficial to both parties, which saved on transport costs, could be done. David has now transferred across the money to complete the purchase, so all we need now are some tables, chairs, kitchen units and the hanging baskets..!

The AGM took place in the shed last week and lasted precisely 51 minutes according to our Secretary. All reports were given, accepted and resolutions duly passed without problem, much to the relief of the Chairman who was suffering from toothache! Despite the teaser in last week’s blog, our Treasurer escaped the meeting without having to answer a single question about the accounts – perhaps they just looked too complicated! Keith managed to be present, coughing and spluttering after his illness last week, but was on the way to recovery.  Thanks to Alan and Alison for the tea, coffee and cakes for the après AGM session, which gave members the chance to have a chat and look at progress on the current projects.

Lino laying in the RMB is making slow but steady progress. However, this may be interrupted this week by David’s discovery on Saturday of an unexpected small hole in the floor when removing old lino. Looks as if John might be back to using the welder again this week.

Paul Newton makes a welcome returnMike Rigg at work with an RMB window frame.There has, however, been considerable progress with the re-installation of the melamine panels in the RMB, assisted by the welcome return of Paul Newton on Friday. The photographs speak for themselves. There is, however, still plenty to do before this job is finished.

Alan was missing last Wednesday – something to do with mistakenly having put an angle grinder blade through the electric cables whilst repairing the long suffering rear bumper of his campervan. John H continued with grinding weld on Caliban‘s newly repaired running plate (quote: “you soon get tired whilst working when you get older”) whilst Adrian worked once more on the frames which are beginning to look as if someone cares about them.

Fred at work on Wootton HallFred and Roger appeared on Friday and continued their work on cleaning components. Fred is seen here using the needle gun on Wootton Hall‘s cylinder block. Keith and Matt have also been at work on the loco.

Alan Ogden at workAnd we mustn’t forget the continuing work on Fluff, where Alan Ogden has been refurbishing the electrical termination boxes.

School holidays arrive this next weekend, so there will be no blog next Monday.