Tuesday 19th October 2021

We are running a day late again this week due to diary congestion!

Alan inspecting FR 20There was some test running of FR 20 last Wednesday. Alan is seen here inspecting one of the engine’s axleboxes during preparation.

FR 20 at Riverside during testingOnce the Ribble Rail lads had completed tanker train duties FR 20 was allowed out on to the main line, running up and down within station limits where it managed to accumulate a small amount of mileage and give everyone confidence that it could be used on the RSR’s train service this Saturday, 23rd October. This is now being advertised.

Fluff looking goodBack in the FRT shed, Phil Bell and John Davis are making good progress with Fluff‘s rebuild, even placing the chimney on top to complete the scene.

GER 5's roof during removal of gas chimneys etcThere has been further progress on removing items from the roof of GER Royal Saloon No. 5.

Cleaned up torpedo ventFred came in on Friday and cleaned up one of the torpedo vents – and found the lettering ‘torpedo patent’ on the metalwork, obviously the origin of the name.

Roger cleaning stained woodInside the coach, Roger has been cleaning up some of the woodwork that has been stained by water ingress.

Phil and Annes Bolton working in GER No. 5Anne and Phil Bolton have been making test sample covers for the seat cushions that fit in the east end saloon.

Sam, Keith ,John and 5643 at the ELR's GalaSam, Keith and John were at Bury last Friday for the first day of the East Lancs Railway’s Autumn Steam Gala where 5643’s partnership with visiting Dinmore Manor was apparently well received.

Newly arrived cladding sheets for Wootton HallThe cladding sheets for Wootton Hall’s boiler have now arrived so there will be plenty of work for Keith to do over the next few weeks.

Monday 11th October 2021

FR 20 after passing its steam testWe are back to the normal Monday schedule for the blog and delighted to inform you all that Furness Railway No. 20 passed its formal steam test with the boiler surveyor at lunchtime on Thursday and is once again officially Britain’s oldest operational standard gauge steam locomotive.

Steam was initially raised on Wednesday when the opportunity was taken to clear some of the soot out of the tubes to ensure that there should be no problem in raising steam in time on Thursday. Fortunately, the original time for the test of 08.00 was amended to 11.00, for which we thank our boiler surveyor, Alan Bennett, which allowed us some more time in bed that morning!

John Dixon fits a new pipe retention bracket on FR 20's framesEarly Thursday morning saw John Dixon fastening some newly fabricated brackets to hold the injector delivery pipes to the clack valve in position using existing holes in  the frames – perhaps this had been a feature earlier in the career of the locomotive.

What happened to the pit?Alan then set about replacing a split pin in one of the cotters – one of those deferred jobs that he had meant to do whilst the loco was over the pit!!

Anyhow, by 11.00 FR 20 had reached the blowing off point and, after a final adjustment of the valves, it was ready for the arrival of Alan Bennett. After a thorough inspection of the locomotive, Alan declared it fit and thanked us all for the work that we had done to get it prepared for him. Alan then informed us that this would probably be his last inspection of FR 20 before his intended retirement in December; we wish him a long and happy retirement with his family.

Needless to say, work has also continued on other projects in the shed. John Dixon and Ed have finally managed to remove two of the gas fittings from the roof of GER royal saloon No. 5 whilst Anne and Phil Bolton have found a source which can supply matching replacement moquette for the interior of the coach. Ade has also been busy working on Caliban.

John Davis and Phil Bell wrestle with Fluff's bonnetJohn Davis and Phil have continued their work on re-constructing Fluff’s bonnet.

Keith drilling holes in Wootton Hall's tender water take off tankKeith, having conducted a successful water test on the newly fabricated water take off tank for Wootton Hall‘s tender, has now started drilling holes in it (!!) so that a flanged pipe can be connected.

Finally, the late Derek Milby was at last given a proper send off on Saturday evening at the Ulverston Brewery Company when many of the exhibitors from the annual Barrow Model Railway Exhibition arrived by preserved bus, courtesy of the Barrow Transport Group. They were joined by members of the FRT and Derek’s two brothers, Don and Ken. An enlarged and re-united Live Steam provided the music and all agreed that it had been an occasion of which Derek would have approved. (Even Derek hadn’t managed to arrange a party in a brewery!) We can reveal that all attempts to drink the brewery dry failed despite some valiant efforts by some. The Live Steam photo shows Gary Weldon, Nigel Harris, Tim Owen, Alan Middleton and Pete Skellon. Pete’s brother, Geoff, also gave assistance with the bodhran.

Tuesday 5th October

Thanks go to everyone who attended the Annual General Meeting in the Furness Railway Trust shed last Tuesday evening. It was good to see an attendance of 20, despite the petrol and diesel shortage at the time. Thanks also go to Alison who provided the sandwiches and cakes, which no doubt provided an incentive to attend, as did the opportunity for members to explore the shed and view progress on projects.

Ed removes one of the interior light fittings from GER No. 5With GER Royal Saloon No. 5 now installed in the main part of the shed, work was restarted on Wednesday on the overhaul that was brought to a halt when it was necessary to commence FR 20’s own overhaul three years ago. Ed volunteered to go on the roof to remove fittings so that the roof can be re-canvassed. Ron Crowe assisted by working on the rain strips which could be accessed by the hydraulic platform at the side. The former gas fittings on the roof, which have since been converted to electric, posed a problem as they refused to budge, either up or down, despite Ed removing part the interior ceiling fittings. Fortunately, it was possible to remove the first of the torpedo air vents and conduit.

Anne and Phil Bolton working on the upholstery in GER No. 5New members Anne and Phil Bolton started an examination of the very tired interior upholstery with a view to replacing it with some suitable material in the future.

Alan repairing a joint on FR 20's right hand injector steam pipeDuring FR 20’s initial steam tests, a pinhole was found in a flange joint on the right hand injector steam pipe. Once dismantled, Alan set about rectifying the problem.

Sam and Alan replace the repaired injector steam pipe on FR 20He and Sam then refitted the pipe in readiness for the formal steam test with the boiler surveyor which is due to take place early Thursday morning.

Finally, a reminder that this year’s Furness Model Railway Club Exhibition will be taking place on Saturday and Sunday, 9th and 10th October, at Walney School on Sandy Gap Lane, Walney, 10 am to 5 pm both days. A gathering in memory of Derek Milby will be held at the Ulverston Brewery Company on Saturday evening. Live Steam will be re-uniting, post Covid, to provide some music. Numbers are limited but please contact Tim Owen if you wish to attend and haven’t already made arrangements to do so.

Monday 27th September 2021

This week we focus on Furness Railway No. 20 as its lengthy overhaul progresses towards a conclusion.

On Tuesday, the loco received its final formal cold inspection by the boiler surveyor when it was deemed to be ready for a steam test.

GER 5 back in the main FRT shedWith Adrian available on Wednesday, it was sensible to conduct a shunt of the FRT shed which saw FR 20 moved off the pit to be replaced by Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5.

Alan Middleton looks on as Alan Vernon coals up FR 20Once the remaining washout plugs and mudhole doors had been fitted to the firebox, FR 20 was sent around to the running shed for the tender to be filled with coal and the boiler with water.

There was then a trip to the water tower to fill the tender tank with water before the loco was returned to the front of the FRT shed. Most of Friday was spent on finishing jobs in the smokebox.

John Dixon mixes concrete for FR 20's smokebox floorFirst the blast pipe was lifted and fitted before John Dixon mixed some refractory concrete to seal the base of the smokebox. The completed smokeboxFinally, the new blower pipe was then fitted.

Tim lights the matchSaturday morning saw the engine pulled out of the shed by Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0ST Linda, prior to the first train of the RSR’s weekend Steam Gala. It was at this point that no one could come up with any more jobs that needed to be done and, at 10.12,  Tim duly struck a match to start the process of raising steam.

The burning rag is despatched into the firboxPlenty of time was spent in slowly warming the boiler, the fire being very gradually built up and spread around the firebox. Meanwhile Tim conducted a few tours of the FRT shed for those visitors to the RSR Gala who wanted a closer look at FR 20 and to view progress on Wootton Hall and Caliban.

Smoke emerges from the chimneyBy late afternoon both of FR 20’s injectors had been tested and the safety valves adjusted. Alan adjusts the safety valvesTime then to reverse FR 20 back into the shed and close the doors.

Sunday morning saw John Dixon, Alan and Tim reconvene to undertake some fettling jobs, including the fitting of a couple of new joints on the right hand injector delivery pipe, before raising steam once again. The remedial works appeared to be successful and, after a gentle trip up and down the yard, FR 20 was duly viewed as being ready for a formal ‘in steam’ inspection by the boiler surveyor.

A final reminder now that the Annual General Meeting of the Furness Railway Trust will take place in the FRT shed tomorrow night, Tuesday, at 7.30 pm. We have been promised cake once the contents of the Trustees’ Annual Report and Accounts have been digested and approved!

Monday 20th September 2021

A sparkling repainted works plateThe final jobs on Furness Railway No. 20 are gradually being knocked off the ‘to do’ list. The black paintwork on the works plates has been renewed by Neil and the plates were re-fitted on Wednesday.

Ron Crowe and Paul Balshaw at work on FR 20Ron Crowe refitted the sand pipes while Paul Balshaw gave the loco another clean in readiness for the forthcoming ‘volunteer open day’.

Alan and Sam at work on the main steam pipe in FR20's smokeboxAlan and Sam spent quite some time modifying and then fitting the main steam pipe in the smokebox.

John Dixon fits retaining clamps for the water gauge drain pipesJohn Dixon has made some clamps to retain the boiler water gauge drain pipes in place – another of those jobs that has taken over twenty years to achieve!

The boiler surveyor is due to give FR 20 what we hope will be a final cold boiler inspection on Tuesday before we light a fire in the firebox. Fingers crossed!

Phil Bell and John Davis at work on FluffAde caught Phil Bell and John Davis working on the right hand side of Fluff’s bonnet on Wednesday.

Alan and Keith putting together new steelwork for the new water take off box for Wootton Hall's tenderWe had a delivery of newly shaped steel plate on Friday from which Keith is going to construct a new water take off box which will sit below Wootton Hall’s tender tank when completed.

The aforementioned ‘volunteer open day’ attracted a number of prospective volunteers on Saturday. Tim and Ade were on hand to show them around plus quite a few other passengers who took the opportunity to visit the FRT shed and purchase some souvenirs. Both Tim and Alison had contributed to a two hour long BBC Radio Lancashire programme on Thursday evening, along with RSR’s Dave Watkins, Gary Severn and Steve Cain, which highlighted the work of volunteers at the RSR and FRT.

A reminder that the Annual General Meeting will take place next Tuesday evening, 28th September, at 7.30 pm in the FRT shed at Preston. We are informed that there will be cake on hand to tempt members to attend!


Monday 13th September 2021

As we head into the more comfortable autumn weather, work in the FRT has been progressing well.

New and old blower rings for FR 20FR 20’s new blower ring has been fabricated by John Dixon and is seen alongside the old ring which had certainly had its day.

John Dixon drills new holes in the upper side of the new blower ring for FR 20John then set about drilling the new holes which, at 1/8th”, are slightly smaller than the previous holes which had opened out naturally beyond their original size.

Sam opening out holes in one part of FR 20's steam pipeAlan and Sam have been working on modifying the main steam pipe. Sam is seen opening out the holes in one end of the pipe to accommodate the new studs on the steam chest.

Underneath FR 20's tenderTim has been putting the finishing touches to the paintwork underneath the tender which, along with some new pipework, looks very smart.

Up and away!Ade spent Wednesday raising Caliban‘s frames so that the wheels could be rolled underneath (hope the wheels are the right way round, Ade!), and then lowering the frames back down again.

Caliban's frames after loweringAfter some adjustment with the help of a traversing jack, the frames finally came down in the right place, between the wheels.

Fluff with left hand side assembledThe left hand side of Fluff‘s engine compartment bonnet is now visibly complete.

John Davis painting an angle for FluffJohn Davis has set about priming an angle to support the right hand side panels.

Lowering Wootton Hall's tender vacuum cylinder into the tender framesWootton Hall’s tender vacuum cylinder has been lowered into position.

Keith Brewer and tender brake shaftFinally, Keith has now manoeuvred the brake shaft adjacent to the cylinder into position ready for fitting.

Monday 6th September 2021

A short update this week.

John Dixon fabricating a new blower ring for FR 20The new water fittings and pipework underneath FR 20’s tender have now been fitted by John Dixon who has now been concentrating his attention on fabricating a new blower pipe for the engine.

The underside of the old blower ringThe corrosion on the underside of the old blower pipe can clearly be seen.

Phil Bell arranges more panels on Fluff's bonnetThe jigsaw that is Fluff‘s bonnet continues to come together with Phil Bell assembling some more panels.

There was a stamp licking session in the mess room last Friday so members should now be receiving their copy of The Iron Horse through the letterbox. The envelope will also contain the Trustees’ Annual Report and Accounts for 2020 plus an invitation to the Annual General Meeting on the evening of Tuesday, 28th September.

It has always been the intention to have a social gathering to celebrate the life of the late Derek Milby. This has now been arranged at the Ulverston Brewing Company’s premises in Derek’s home town of Ulverston on the evening of Saturday, 9th October. This event will coincide with the annual Barrow Model Railway Club exhibition when many of Derek’s friends will be in the area. The premises can only accommodate 50 people so it would be helpful if any readers who wish to attend can contact Tim Owen who will liaise with the Furness Model Railway Club regarding numbers. The event will close at 10.30 pm and Live Steam will be making their first scheduled post lock down appearance.

Monday 30th August 2021

Sam drills a new hole in FR 20's cab spectacle plateWork has progressed on fitting the controls to the new injector steam valves on FR 20. It has been possible to fit the right hand control through an existing hole in the cab spectacle plate but for some reason a new hole was required on the left hand side which was drilled by Sam.

Phil Bell trying to make the engine compartment sheets on Fluff fitPhil is still working his way towards fitting the panels on Fluff‘s engine compartment.

Ade fitting felt pads to Caliban's axleboxesAde has been fitting felt pads to Caliban‘s axlebox keeps. He managed to find some horse hair to provide extra cushioning under the pads, which saved the need for him to cut off his own locks!

Paul Newton with a shiny bench seatPaul Newton is now in the final stages of restoring the former L&NWR platform seat from Preston station.

Ron Crowe cutting more steel from Wootton Hall's tender tankRon has been cutting out more corroded steel from Wootton Hall‘s tender tank.

Wootton Hall's vacuum cylinder being set up for a testKeith has completed the assembly of Wootton Hall’s tender vacuum cylinder and it is being set up for a test.

Finally, the Annual General Meeting will be held this year at the FRT shed at Preston at 7.30 pm on Tuesday evening, 28th September; please put this in your diary. The formal invitations to members will go out with the latest edition of The Iron Horse magazine, which is now in production with the proofs being returned to the printer last week.

Monday 23rd August 2021

There are still some outstanding areas of work to complete before Furness Railway No. 20 can be steamed. Ron Crowe refitted the front guard irons, which had been removed for the engine’s recent trip to Barrow, and Tim has taken on board cleaning out the lockers in the tender – yes the clear-out was long overdue with a fair amount of rubbish found and disposed of! The lockers are receiving a fresh coat of paint before they are refilled with useful content! Alan and Sam have been concentrating on fitting the controls to the new injector steam valves, with the refitting of the main steam pipe also on their ‘to do’ list. John Dixon preparing the 2 pack paintJohn Dixon has been continuing his expeditions into the tender tank, seen here mixing the two pack paint…

John Dixon busy in the tender tank…and then applying it.

Paul Balshaw applying primer to Fluff's panelsThe Fluff gang has been busy test fitting side panels to the engine compartment. Paul Balshaw is seen here applying primer to one of the panels…

Phil Bell removing accumulated paint on one of the panels…whilst Phil Bell has been removing paint to make the panels fit correctly!

Ade has been test fitting Caliban‘s axleboxes.

G clamps galore!Keith has been renovating and assembling Wootton Hall‘s tender vacuum cylinder. First a new slipping band had to be fitted to the piston. This can be a frustrating exercise: the holes in the piston, the band and the steel band that keeps the slipping band in place have all to be lined up. ‘G’ clamps are the preferred method to achieve this and the FRT’s full complement of clamps were deployed to the task on Wednesday morning.

Keith tightening up the vacuum tender cylinder for Wootton HallBy Friday Keith had fitted the rubbing band, inserted the piston, fitted the sealing rings and was to be seen tightening up the top and bottom parts of the vacuum cylinder.

Keith reports that 5643 has again been busy at the East Lancs Railway, hauling ten coaches on Thursday. It is seen here leaving Bury on Friday with the dining train of six coaches.

Finally, when Tim was in an Ulverston bookshop this week he spotted a book entitled Ulverston, Festival town, with a very familiar face grinning at him from the front cover!Alan has become a front cover man at last!

Monday 16th August 2021

Give him a long enough lever and Ade will move the earth!Last Wednesday saw yet another working party convene at Embsay in an effort to improve the performance of Cumbria‘s left hand injector. New parts had been fitted during the previous visit but the bottom cone had proved to be a tight fit and it had been decided not to put too much weight on it whilst being screwed into position. This time, on examination, there was far less resistance and, with the assistance of a length of pipe, Adrian was able to screw it until it reached the end of its thread.

Well, that took all of ten minutes, so it was agreed to give Cumbria a steam test so that the effect of this tweak to the injector could be assessed. Needless to say, there was then a break of some hours whilst steam was raised which allowed time for cups of tea, lunch, more tea, cleaning of the engine and the taking of some photographs.Alan taking a carriage photo?Tim caught Alan apparently taking a photo of the lovely L&NWR saloon.

Ade's artistic effortMeanwhile Ade contented himself with one of his artistic cab spectacle photos of Welsh Guardsman departing Embsay with a train to Bolton Abbey.

The outcome of all this was that, when pressure reached 115 psi, Ade lost patience and put the injector on with no problem. This then led to Cumbria being put into service for a short stint before being withdrawn for a scheduled boiler washout.

Planning the day's activitiesBack at Preston, the Fluff gang has again been busy. We see here a planning meeting on Friday – is this a new concept?!

Test fitting more bits on FluffPhil and John Davis then set about test fitting the first side panel to the new angle support piece.

Fred in familiar poseFred then set about cleaning more of Fluff’s panels for painting.

Roger lying down on the jobMeanwhile Roger took advantage of some better weather by continuing the paint job on the former Foxfield water column.

John Dixon heading into self isolationWork also continued on FR 20 where Stewart Waugh had applied some anti-corrosion solution to the tender coal space after which Tim added some grey undercoat. Having finished (and won!) his long running battle with fitting the engine’s vacuum pipe, John Dixon was busy on the inside of the tender tank applying some two pack paint, again to prevent future corrosion.