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.

Wednesday 13th June 2018

First of all, sorry that we are a couple of days late this week, due to the overloaded diaries of the blog team. Apologies…

Following on from the announcement in last week’s blog of the sad passing of Chris Mills, we can now confirm that Chris’s funeral will be held at Preston Crematorium at 11.30 next Monday, 18th June. This will be followed in the early afternoon by a gathering at the Ribble Steam Railway where light refreshments will be available.

Ade and David Starkie attach a spring hanger pin on Caliban's framesIn the workshop there was a marked step forward on the (not so) mini project to remove the remaining extremely stubborn spring hanger pins from Caliban‘s frames. A further four pins were removed with the aid of an air powered hammer. Ade and David Starkie are seen here in action. Unfortunately, the air compressor sprang an oil leak and one pin, which has so far shown not one iota of movement, is still left to be extracted.

Gold size applied to the upper panels of GER No.5Sanding of the exterior woodwork of the Royal Saloon GER No. 5 has been completed and John Dixon is working his way around the coach with the wood filler. Tim has therefore been able to start the process of applying gold size, the effect of which can be seen by the accompanying photo, where the upper panels have received the gold size. Almost the whole of the north side of the vehicle has now been treated and more progress is anticipated this next week.

Paul Newton cleans the mess room roof watched by John DavisOutside the shed, there has been good progress on preparing the exterior of the mess room for painting. Fred had started the job the previous week and Paul Newton and John Davis are seen here on the roof applying the full force of the power washer. More red oxide on the exterior had appeared by the weekend and it is hoped to be able to continue this progress whilst the weather holds fair.

A further visit was made to Carnforth on Thursday by Alan, Keith and John Dixon to gather together the remaining small components that could be transported back to Preston with the RSR’s pick up. The next stage is to arrange a crane and lorry to transport the frames, wheels and tank.

The blog team received some “earache” for not mentioning last week the successful trial of Alison’s cream teas in the former FRT buffet car on the Bank Holiday Sunday. Assisted by Matt Bedford, the teas provided to the “guinea pigs” received the thumbs up and so a public launch is now planned for Sunday, 19th August. Well done, Alison.

The ten year boiler certificate for Furness Railway No. 20 expires on the 8th July and so it is planned to have a “last hurrah” for the loco at the RSR on the 7th and 8th July. Then it will be a case of stripping it down for overhaul in the FRT shed. Plenty there to keep us busy over the autumn and winter months.

And finally, a reminder that the RSR is holding its first Beer and Cider Festival this weekend complete with Classic Cars in attendance and a vintage bus service from Preston station. Late trains will be running on Saturday evening.

Monday 4th June 2018

We start this week’s blog with the sad news that Chris Mills, a long standing director of the Ribble Steam Railway, who also joined the FRT in recent years, passed away yesterday morning after a long and determined fight against illness. Chris, despite his health problems, remained a larger than life character who took on the duties of membership administration when Peter Sinclair retired in addition to his role as editor of The Ribble Pilot and administrator of the RSR’s web site. Chris was also in close touch with the media and arranged advertising for special events. He will be very much missed at Preston and our thoughts go out to his wife, Sonja, and Chris’s family.

FR20 on its first day back in action at the RSRFurness Railway No. 20 made a return to steam at the RSR over the Bank Holiday weekend, operating successfully over the Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The tender had been lowered back on to its rear wheelset the previous Wednesday after attention to the rear right axlebox. We are pleased to report that the axlebox showed a significant improvement in performance and, whilst still warming up over a period of time, was nothing like as bad as had been experienced at Shildon during FR 20’s latter steamings there. No doubt the axlebox will get further attention during the locomotive’s forthcoming overhaul.

A Facebook Live was filmed on the footplate of FR 20 that day, which was broadcast “live” on our Facebook page, to record the complete run along the length of the RSR. This has proved to be extremely popular – it’s been shared 90 times and been seen by more than 6000 people. If you haven’t watched it yet, it’s here..

News of the generous donation of former Furness Railway No. 25 aka Barrow Haematite Steel Company No. 17 to the FRT by the Executors of the late Bert Hitchen’s estate is now in the public arena and we have had a very positive reaction. Both Steam Railway and Railway Magazine sent their congratulations and the view that the FRT was the right and proper custodian of this locomotive, and similar views have been expressed over on our Facebook page.

Visits have been made to Carnforth by Alan, Keith and John Dixon over the last two Thursdays in order to retrieve the smaller components of 25/17. A further visit is planned for this next Thursday after which a plan will made to bring the frames, cab and wheels to Preston.

John Davis and Paul Newton at work on GER No. 5

Work has continued on the FRT’s projects, including the sanding down of Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5. John Davis and Paul Newton are seen here hard at work.

We conclude by having to report that the end may well be nigh for FRT Campervan No.1 which, as we reported a  few weeks ago, suffered a clutch failure on the A66 whilst returning from Shildon. Unfortunately, it also suffered a more terminal brake failure whilst being manoeuvred at the garage, where it had been towed for repair. It appears that it came off worse when the front of it ran into a wall! Still, Alan reckons that he got his money’s worth out of it over the last nine years.

Monday 21st May 2018

Ade, John Dixon and Alan with one of FR20's axleboxesAs mentioned in last week’s blog, the main task at this last Wednesday’s working party was the jacking up of FR 20’s tender to attend to an axlebox which had been showing signs of warming up during the latter days of its operation at Locomotion, Shildon. Once the axlebox had been dismantled it became clear that both the bearing and the journal had, for some reason, become scored. Also, the bearing had become too good a fit, not enabling oil to circulate and lubricate the interface between bearing and journal.

Tim set to and did his best to take out the roughened surface on the journal by the painstaking method of applying varying grades of abrasives, with John Dixon carrying on the task on Friday. Alan attends to the axlebox bearingAlan, meanwhile, took the bearing aside to remove some of the brass in order to give some more lead towards the top of the bearing, so allowing more oil to circulate. Alan tests the surface of the bearing with engineer's blueThe oil pad showed signs of wear to the rivets, which suggested that these had come into contact with the journal. Some horsehair was retrieved from store with a view to substituting this instead of the oil pad when the axlebox is reassembled. The engine, incidentally, already has horsehair in its axleboxes and this seems to have worked well in the past. All being well, FR 20’s tender will be back on its feet on Wednesday and it is proposed that it will be in service on the RSR over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Howard trys to free off another spring hangerWork also progressed on Caliban where a further spring hanger has been freed off, much against its will. Only another five to go! Howard is seen here tackling the next one.

More new metal in Wootton Hall's tender framesKeith has been making the most of his retirement, as can be seen from this photo of new steelwork between Wootton Hall‘s tender frames.

John Davis, assisted on Friday by Mike Rigg (taking a break from his holidays!) has continued the long task of sanding down the Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon. Well done John!

Finally, we have positive news from Embsay in that Cumbria has passed its steam test in the presence of the boiler surveyor and, after a change of brake blocks, should be back in service this next weekend.

Monday 14th May 2018

Last week we left you in suspense as to whether Alan’s failed campervan would get to Preston before midnight last Tuesday after its breakdown on the A66 at Stainmore early afternoon. We can now report that the AA finally delivered Alan and his campervan to the RSR at 00. 45 Wednesday morning. Needless to say that, after an 02.00 arrival at his bed, Alan wasn’t back with us at Preston until rather later on that day.

John David and Paul Newton sanding down GER No. 5 090518Meanwhile, Tim, Paul Newton and John Davis continued the job of sanding down Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5 whilst John Dixon filled and sanded down the various cracks in the teak panels. One of the worst cracks in the teak panels on GER No. 5The job continued on Friday when Fred and Roger joined Paul and the two Johns, with the task now well on the way to completion. John Dixon re-assembling a door after repairing a crack in the front teak panelThat’s just as well for the work really does take it toll, numbing both fingers and mind!

Howard and Adrian continued their efforts to remove Caliban‘s springs – three on the ground are pictured here last Wednesday. Adrian put in a little more time on both Thursday and Friday (he must be getting better!) and the fourth spring was off by the time that he retired from the fray. Ade is back to work this week, we hear.

Keith at work with a drill.We forgot last week to congratulate Keith on his retirement from his job with Ribble Rail on the 4th May. Needless to say, Keith is making the most of his new found leisure time to progress the tender frames for Wootton Hall. He is seen here drilling a brace section that will support the vacuum cylinder.

This next Wednesday should see some work to examine one of FR 20’s tender axleboxes which was found to be warming up during its final steamings at Locomotion. Some attention to the brass bearing looks likely in order to solve the problem.

Finally this week, the FRT’s ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Cumbria has been taken out of traffic at Embsay and washed out in readiness for it cold inspection by the boiler surveyor today. If all goes well, there will be a formal steam test early next week.

Tuesday 8th May 2018

FR 20 ready for its Last Hurrah at Shildon on Monday, 7th MayThis last weekend saw Furness Railway No. 20’s last three days of operation at Locomotion, Shildon before returning to Preston this week in readiness for its ten year boiler overhaul. Eustace Forth at Shildon which will take over from FR 20 at LocomotionLocomotion had arranged a Festival of Steam, which included the first appearance of replacement locomotive, RS&H 0-4-0ST Eustace Forth plus some road steam engines. Line up of road steam power st LocomotionThat Sentinel steam lorry was certainly an impressive beast! John and Jean Dixon, Sam Middleton and Keith Brewer visited on Sunday to enjoy the sunshine and steam.Alan and Tim with two ladies from Same Difference ArtsAlan and Tim had their photo taken with two young ladies from the Same Difference Arts who were performing street theatre in Steam Punk attire.

Staff and volunteers at Locomotion attack the cakes before FR 20's final two runs at Shildon on Monday, 7th MayFR 20 ran the last three hours on Monday on its own, with a pause at 15.30 to enable the NRM’s Anthony Coulls to make a lovely speech on behalf of Locomotion to mark the nine years that FR 20 had been based there. There then followed the cutting of two large cakes before staff and volunteers boarded the train, along with visitors, for the final two departures of the day. Needless to say, there was some loud whistling from the locomotive on the final journey (by guess who) followed by some goodbyes from Alan, Alison and Tim to the Locomotion family of staff and volunteers, some of whom had turned up on Monday to have a last go on the regulator. All in all, a fitting if not rather nostalgic occasion. Hopefully, FR 20 will be back in the not too distant future.

As of tonight, FR 20 is standing on the apron at Locomotion waiting to be loaded at 09.00 on Wednesday morning and, at the time of writing (just before 8pm) poor Alan is at Killington service station waiting for the second AA breakdown truck of the evening to take him onwards to Preston following a clutch failure on his campervan at 14.30 hrs going over Stainmore on the A66. Alison has arrived at Killington to keep him company and he hopes to be at Preston before midnight!

More synchronised sanding from John Dixon and John DavisWork has continued at Preston on sanding down the weathered sections of woodwork on GER Royal Saloon No.5, although fingers are now becoming rather numb from the effort! The worse side has now been tackled so a start has been made on one of the ends. The second side should just require a light sand to allow new varnish to key to the existing varnished surface. John Dixon and John Davis are seen here in synchronised sanding action.

Howard and Ade hard at it with CalibanAdrian made a welcome return on Wednesday after a visit to works for repairs and is seen here giving moral support to Howard as he battles with the dismantling of Caliban‘s springs.Dvid Rimmer lending a hand with Caliban on the 5th MayDavid Rimmer joined in the action on Saturday and a second spring has now been removed.

Mike Rigg and David Rimmer hard at it in the mess room stuffing envelopes with the GDPR infoMike Rigg spent most of Wednesday in the mess room, assisted by David, stuffing envelopes with GDPR correspondence, which should now have landed with members – in fact two consent forms were already back through the post on Friday, even though second class post had been used in both directions. If you haven’t already done so, please return the consent forms as quickly as possible so that the FRT can remain in full contact with you.

Progress with assembling Wootton Hall's frames after the recent welding can be seen hereAnd we leave you with a view of progress on Wootton Hall‘s tender frames, which are now gaining additional metal following the recent completion of the welding work on the side plates.

Monday 30th April 2018

GER 5 now in the shedWork started on Wednesday on the refresh of the FRT’s Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5. The coach had, as planned, been shunted into the heated part of the shed after the RSR’s TPO coach had been moved round into the museum.The TPO now in the museum Discussing next stepsTime was taken to re-familiarise with the saloon and to identify work to be done. Whilst Tim cleaned up the shed floor to remove dust and the like from the TPO overhaul, others started to move around the chairs in coach in order to hoover and tidy up one of the carpets. It would be a nice idea to replace all the carpets with something more suited to a Royal saloon, but we will have to weigh up the costs! The upholstery also needs some considerable attention and again it will be necessary to get some quotes for upgrading it.

Some of the weathered exterior on GER 5In the meantime, it was decided to attend to the exterior of the saloon. Some of the varnish had begun to peel, particularly on the north side of the vehicle as it stands now – the adjacent photo illustrates the problem. The Gang rubbling down the saloonA test area was sanded down by Mike, both Pauls and John Davis before Tim applied some gold size, which brought the colour back to the teak. Roger Benbow, John, Paul Newton and Mike continued the task on Friday. The south side of the vehicle isn’t too bad, but will benefit from some more coats of varnish in due time.

John Dixon continued his work in the mess room where he swapped round the hinges on the fridge freezer so they are more convenient for those using the work top to make a cup of tea or coffee. He also assisted Fred on Friday with fitting the cable for the new aerial. Fred then continued on to clean up a fresh buffer for Wootton Hall‘s tender with a wire brush.

Keith was due to go across to Embsay on Sunday to take back the superheater header for 5643 and some replacement firebars for Cumbria. Howard is now working out how to fix up a drill to remove those stubborn spring hanger pins on Caliban.

This next weekend sees the Festival of Steam Gala at Locomotion, Shildon, which will also mark FR 20’s final turns of duty before it returns to Preston on Thursday. Alan, Tim and Alison will be travelling across the Pennines to be with the old engine and a dinner is being planned on Saturday evening by volunteers to mark the occasion of FR 20’s imminent departure. Joining FR 20 for the Gala will be Robert Stephenson and Hawthorne o-40ST No. 7063 Eustace Forth, built in 1942. The locomotive worked as No. 15 at Dunston Power Station.

Finally, following the extended meeting of the Trustees last week, members will be receiving an envelope through the post containing official notification of the AGM date (Tuesday, 26th June at 7.30 pm) together with a letter regarding the steps taken to comply with the General Data Processing Regulation plus the FRT’s Privacy Policy. This  is a subject that is having to be tackled by many other organisations. A form and SAE are enclosed to enable members to give their consent to the Trust maintaining full contact with them after the implementation of the GDPR on the 25th May.


Tuesday 24th April 2018

Mike Rigg drills holes so that the brush strips alongside the TPO doors can be fixedThe RSR’s TPO spent its last week in the FRT’s shed as Mike (above) and Paul (below) fitted the brush strips alongside the sliding doors and John Dixon cleaned the windows and touched up some of the paintwork. Paul Newton screws in a brush strip on the TPO

Finished job with brush strip fixedIt It is planned that the TPO coach will be moved out of the shed today and replaced by the Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5 which will need a little TLC to its upholstery and exterior varnish after being in use at Beamish for eight years. And, of course, there are still some jobs that we never finished off in the first place!

Chris Rycroft and Howard Fletcher line up the jack hammer to try and remove one of Caliban's spring hanger pins. 180418Chris Rycroft and Howard Fletcher are seen here between Caliban‘s frames last Wednesday manoeuvring a jack hammer into position in order to try and remove another of the very stubborn spring hanger pins. One pin was removed on Wednesday but it looks as if it will be necessary to drill out the other pins, which will no doubt take some considerable time and effort.

Laying tarmac outside the FRT shed. 200418Outside the shed, tarmac was laid on Friday in preparation for the creation of the Ribble Steam Railway’s new children’s playground. John and Fred fixing a new aerial above the mess room 200418John and Fred were on the mess room roof in order to fix a new outside aerial, and the completed tarmac and aerial can be seen here. Tarmac laid and aerial fitted 200418Inside the mess room John has fitted a much needed new towel rail.

Keith has taken delivery of two new sheets of steel as he proceeds with the re-building of the top of the tender frames. With the TPO coach finished, Mike reverted to chasing up electrical faults on the FRT’s former RMB and discovered new fuses that didn’t actually contain any fuse wire..!

Cumbria at Embsay on Saturday waiting to depart with the 13.30 to Bolton AbbeyCumbria arrived at Embsay as scheduled last Thursday and was pressed into traffic straight away on Saturday and Sunday. Alan and Tim each went for a footplate ride on the old ‘Red Rocket’ on Saturday and proclaimed that it was good to see it back in action closer to home. Cumbria is seen here at Embsay on Saturday ready to depart with the 13.30 train to Bolton Abbey.

The new tubes for 5643 in the loco shed at Embsay waiting to be fitted by Andy BoothAlso seen here at Embsay are the new small boiler tubes for 5643 which had arrived and are now waiting to be fitted by Andy Booth.

Finally there was a very long meeting of, the Trustees last night, which finished at 11.45 pm, having been on the go since 8 pm. It seems  that the forthcoming challenges of the new General Data Protection Regulation were of rather more interest to everyone than might have been anticipated! Members should expect a letter on the subject in the post over the next week or so.

Monday 16th April 2018

It has been another busy week for us at Preston which has seen the restoration of the RSR’s Travelling Post Office Sorting Vehicle almost complete.

The vinyls being applied by PPSThe people from PPS Graphics from nearby Anchorage Business Park turned up as scheduled on Wednesday morning and, with Tim’s assistance, applied the fantastic graphics to the bodysides of the TPO.

The job took over three hours, but the care given to getting things right was well rewarded in terms of the finished product. Having checked that the yellow stripes painted on the bottom panels were a good match to the graphics, the masking tape was duly removed and the vehicle readied for varnishing on the Friday. Meanwhile, John Dixon and John Davis had been busy painting below the frames, applying the ‘electric orange’ paint to the various electrical cabinets and electric train heat equipment.

The main task on Friday, to varnish the coach both sides from end to end, was completed without incident by John Dixon and Tim whilst John Davis prepared and cleaned the brush strips which will be refitted to the sides of the sliding doors – these were presumably designed to prevent draughts whilst the TPO train was travelling at speed. It is intended to refit these brush strips this next week before the TPO is moved into the RSR’s Museum to become the centrepiece of a feature on Mail by Rail. Varnished and nearly ready to goThe TPO coach is seen here after varnishing had been completed.

Howard has had a frustrating time in trying to remove the spring hanger pins on Caliban, the application of heat by John Stewart the previous Saturday having seemingly had little effect. Alan Ogden appeared on Wednesday to continue his work on Fluff but, in Adrian’s absence, took pity on Howard and lent a hand. Adrian – it looks as if there will still be plenty of work for you to do when you return from your convalescence!

Ian Massey returned on Friday to continue the task of welding the new front steel plates on to Wootton Hall‘s tender frames. A screen was rigged up to prevent sparks from affecting the nearby work on the RMB. (It’s in the background of the picture of the almost-completed TPO van.) The completion of this welding is a key milestone in the project to re-build the tender, so well done to all concerned.

Mike Rigg turned up on Friday with his electrical gear to do some work on the FRT’s former RMB, No. 1812. It appears that the lighting system has been causing some problems, but Mike informs us that things seemed to have improved when he called in to check during the RSR’s Diesel Gala on Saturday.

Cumbria‘s successful stint of over two years at The Battlefield Line concluded this last weekend and the loco is scheduled to be transferred to the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway on Thursday. All being well, it should be in steam there next weekend.

The travails of the FRT’s support vehicles (the campervans) continue as the now 46 years old VW owned by Tim finished up arriving at Morecambe for its MoT and service on the back of an AA truck, having failed during its journey there on the A590 through a fuel pump failure. The good news is that it is now back home and ready for action, although the mackerel tin lid that is held in place over a hole in the exhaust tail pipe by three jubilee clips is still in position as it was deemed by all concerned to be an adequate repair!

Finally, there is a meeting of the Trustees next Monday evening at Alison’s house when the 2017 Accounts and Trustees’ Annual Report will be reviewed followed by a discussion on Mike’s proposed action plan for the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulations. And then there will no doubt be the little matter of making suitable inroads into Alison’s sandwiches before we are allowed to go home!