Monday 18th September 2023

5643's front buffer beam removedThere has been more progress with the dismantling of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T locomotive No. 5643 where the front buffer beam has now been removed.

The cleaned up bufferbeamThis will enable access to the cylinders so that new liners can be fitted. Keith and Fred are seen here with the buffer beam which Fred has been attending to with his cup wire brush to remove old paint and rust.

Andy Booth cutting out the old tubes from 5643's boilerAndy Booth made a start on removing the old tubes from 5643’s boiler on Friday, cutting them from the firebox end first.

The royal coach gang has been turning its attention to some of the smaller but still time-consuming fitting and snagging jobs on Great Eastern Railway No. 5. John Dixon has been re-fitting the brass radiator covers, whilst Sam has wired up the water tank pump in the kitchen which, much to the delight of Phil Bell and John Davis, enabled water to appear through the sink taps. Meanwhile, Anne and Phil Burton have been making mats to go just inside the entry doors of the coach in order to preserve the new carpet. Tim has given the step boards a coat of paint, not easy when people keep climbing in and out of the coach!

Ade transports the newly acquired coupling rod for 4979 to the FRT shedAt long last, the coupling rod that was acquired from the Didcot Railway Centre for GWR 4-6-0 locomotive No. 4979 Wootton Hall was transported to the FRT shed by Ade on Wednesday, having arrived at Preston in the tender of FR 20 last Monday evening.

A reminder here to all members that the Furness Railway Trust’s AGM will be held in the FRT shed at 7.30 pm next Monday, 25th September. Alison has promised to provide some food, so please ensure that there are enough of you to consume it all!

Finally, it seems that YouTube just keeps providing more good footage of Furness Railway No. 20 during its stay at the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway, so you might wish to have a look at this:

Tuesday 12th September 2023

FR 20 on shed alongside the L&NWR Coal TankThe main event this week has been Furness Railway No. 20’s participation in the Blaenavon Heritage Railway’s Autumn Steam Gala this last weekend. Sam Middleton and John Dixon went down to Blaenavon last Wednesday evening in order to prepare FR 20 on Thursday for the steamings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They were joined early Friday afternoon by Tim followed by Ade. Whilst Sam and John headed home on Saturday, Alison and Alan arrived on Saturday evening for the final day of the event.

John Dixon and Ade enjoying a ride on the cushionsSam looked after FR 20 on Friday which enabled the others to have a ride in a 1910 former engineer’s saloon.

Sam inspecting the pile of char which he had to removeSam then dealt with the inevitable pile of char in the smokebox.

With only four locos in steam, FR 20 was busier on the Friday and there is some YouTube footage here of it in action:

There was a very full programme of trains on the Saturday and Sunday with six locomotives in steam: FR 20, L&NWR Coal Tank 0-6-2T No. 1054, Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0ST Keighley Gas Works No. 2, Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0T No. 1857, Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST Rosyth No. 1 and Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST No. 1219 Caledonia Works. There were two passenger train sets plus a coal train to keep the locos busy all day.

Alison with the sales standNeedless to say, Alison spent some time taking some useful sales income on Sunday.

FR 20 on Thunderbird duties, approaching Furnace Sidings stationIt is pleasing to be able to report that FR 20 steamed extremely well all weekend and, late Sunday afternoon, was called upon to rescue a train that was in trouble at Blaenavon High Level. Not surprisingly, a crowd gathered to watch the gallant 160 year old locomotive blast its way up the bank into Furnace Sidings station with the ensemble of two locomotives and three carriages behind it.

4979's rod is loaded once againNeedless to say, it was starting to get dark when Ade, Alan and Tim then set about preparing FR 20 for its journey home, removing guard irons and sand pipes and fitting lugs to the tender that could be used to fasten the loco on to the transporter the following morning. And then there was the loading once again of the coupling rod for Wootton Hall!

Back tucked up in the RSR running shedFortunately, the journey home for everyone and the loco was without incident and Ade was on hand yesterday evening to shunt FR 20 into the running shed at Preston.

Anne and Phil Burton test the chairs in GER No. 5The previous Wednesday at Preston had been spent in moving the stored chairs and tables into Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5. The coach was then moved over the pit to allow inspection and oiling to take place and then into the outer shed to enable 5643 to be re-positioned and its boiler to be moved into the main shed.

GER 5 out in the fresh airGER No. 5 was then moved into the RSR running shed on Saturday and a satisfactory brake test performed using the steam locomotive of the day. The 125 year old vehicle is now scheduled to make an appearance at the RSR’s autumn Steam Gala on the 30th September and the 1st October.

Monday 4th September 2023

A short update this week.

Phil Burton fits new feet to the chairs for GER No. 5With the interior of Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5 almost complete, it has been time to move out of storage the seats and furniture that have been gathered for the coach. Some of the rubber chair leg feet were found to be absent, which had the potential for the new carpet to be damaged. Phil Burton has acquired some new feet and is seen here attending to the matter. Phil Bell and John Dixon made an early start to enable the gas fitter to attend at 08.00 on Friday morning. We are pleased to be able to report that the gas system is now passed ready for service. In anticipation of this, Tim has conducted axle pad exams ready for the coach to be moved further up the shed this Wednesday.

This next weekend will see FR 20 appearing at the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway’s Annual Steam Gala together with visitors L&NWR coal tank No. 1054 and Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0ST Keighley Gas Works No. 2. A number of members are travelling to South Wales this weekend to support FR 20 and also to prepare the loco for transporting back to Preston.

Tuesday 29th August 2023

FR 20 at Furnace Sidings after having hauled a well filled train up from Blaenarvon on Saturday, 26th AugustThe Bank Holiday weekend saw Furness Railway No. 20 successfully return to service at the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway in time for that railway’s 40th Anniversary Celebrations.

FR 20 takes a rest whilst Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST Rosyth No. 1 heads to Whistle Inn HaltFR 20 successfully completed four return trips along the length of the main line on Saturday, Sunday and Monday with Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST Rosyth No. 1 working from Big Pit to Whistle Inn Halt with a Mark 1 TSO coach and a brake van; the latter replicated the opening day train formation in 1983.

Fortunately the rain held off, apart from a few showers, and the two coach trains were well filled with passengers. The first train on Saturday morning was standing room only. Some video of the weekend can be seen here:

FR 20's smokebox well filled with char at the end of Saturday, 26th AugustThe hard work work hauing the coaches up the incline from Blaenavon resulted in the smokebox and its door losing some of its paint. Opening the smokebox door found a deep pile of char that filled four wheelbarrows!

Phil Burton polishing GER No. 5's vacuum gauge.Back at Preston, last Friday saw an action plan being agreed with our qualified gas fitter for piping gas into the kitchen of Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5. Phil Bell will take this forward. The banquet chairs have been brought out of storage for cleaning and some TLC, whilst Phil and Anne Burton have been devoting some time to giving the vacuum gauge a good polish.

John Dixon repairing one of the radiator coversJohn Dixon is seen repairing one of the brass radiator covers from GER No. 5

Work has also continued on GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643 where Sam and Keith have been removing the braking rigging. A shunt of the shed is expected tomorrow (Wednesday) to swap the positions of 5643 and GER No. 5.

Monday 21st August 2023

FR 20's test run approaching Whistle Inn HaltWe start this week’s blog with the very good news that Furness Railway No. 20 underwent a successful test run yesterday on the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway following repairs to its right-hand front cylinder cover, piston and motion. Alan, Andrew and Sam Middleton made the journey down to Blaenavon to help prepare the loco and to witness the test. The above photo shows a spotless FR 20 approaching Whistle Inn Halt at the top of the line.

Footplate view of FR 20 on the test runThe second footplate view is of the loco descending back to Furnace Sidings with Alan centre. FR 20 is now scheduled to operate at the P&BR’s 40th Birthday Celebrations this next weekend on the 26th, 27th and 28th August. It is also due to appear alongside L&NWR Coal Tank 0-6-2T No. 1054 at the Gala on the 8th, 9th and 10th September. Our thanks go to Ryan Pope and the people at the West Somerset Railway who have arranged the repairs.

And while we’re talking about FR 20, we should point out that this very day marks the old girl’s 160th birthday!  Happy Birthday!

GER No 5 large saloon with carpetBack at Preston there is more good news in that the new carpet was laid in Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5 last Friday. GER No 5 small saloon with carpetThe photos show the carpet in the two saloons. As you would expect, it makes a big difference to the vehicle.

John Davis upholstering the last door on GER No 5The previous Wednesday, Anne and Phil Burton had completed the reupholstery of the guard’s compartment and John Davis has completed the upholstery on the last door. There are, however, still quite a few jobs to complete, including the kitchen where our gas fitter is due to attend on Friday.

Jon Dixon working on 5643Finally, work has also continued on the overhaul of GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643 where Jon Dixon is seen suitably togged up whilst removing old paint and rust from the frames.

Monday 14th August 2023

It’s a case of never mind the width, feel the quality this week!?! So just a short
update with a couple of pieces of good news.

A view of FR 20 after repair. Just a bit of touching up of the black paint required!Firstly, Furness Railway No. 20 has been re-assembled after repairs to its
right-hand piston head, cylinder cover and crossheads. An in-steam test to
check that all is now well is due to take place on the Pontypool & Blaenavon
Railway this Sunday. Sam and Alan have kindly volunteered to make the
journey down to South Wales for the occasion.

The chaise longue ready for passengersSecondly, at long last and after some struggles and enforced learning, the
repairs and re-upholstering of the chaise longue in the east saloon of Great
Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5 have been completed. It should be
emphasised that this has been done entirely in house, so well done to all
concerned. John Dixon has, as can be seen from the photo, also completed the
job of covering of the east saloon floor with plywood, ready for the new carpet
to be laid.

Monday 7th August 2023

FR 20's piston heads, rods and cotters all made upWe are pleased to report that work on the repairs to FR 20’s motion has been progressing well at Williton, courtesy of West Somerset Restoration, following the fusion welding of the right-hand piston head and cylinder cover. The piston head has now been reunited with the piston rod and both cross head cotters fitted after the necessary machining. It is planned to reassemble the motion on FR 20 at Blaenavon this Wednesday after which the locomotive will undergo an in-steam test.

Jonathan Dixon working in 5643's framesBack at Preston work has been progressing steadily on the overhaul of Great Western 0-6-2T No. 5643. We were pleased to be joined by Jonathan Dixon who was given the task of cleaning down part of the frames.

5643's frames being cleaned and paintedJon has not been the only member working on this task and the results so far can be seen above.

Fred cleaning the vacuum reservoir from 5643Following the issue of a new cup wire brush to Fred last week, he has been making best use of it by removing old paint and rust from the reservoir on 5643’s vacuum brake system.

Bob Thomson working on 5643's regulatorBob Thomson has continued his work on 5643’s regulator valve.

Keith removing stubborn nuts from one of 5643's spring hangersKeith is seen here removing some stubborn nuts from one of 5643’ radial spring hangers.

Finally, work hasn’t stopped on Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5. Alison has now managed to make contact with the carpet supplier and we hope to see the carpet fitted shortly.

Monday 31st July 2023

We are back after a holiday break, but that doesn’t mean to say that things have been at a standstill.

New cotter fitted to one of FR 20's crossheads alongside an old cotterFirstly, FR 20’s front right hand cylinder cover and piston head should now be back at Williton after repair, for machining. We have the above photograph, courtesy of West Somerset Restoration of one of the old crosshead cotters (left) and a new crosshead cotter fitted snugly into place. So things are progressing with the repair and re-assembly of FR 20. This has obviously given the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway confidence to advertise FR 20’s participation in their three-day Gala on the 8th-10th September.

5643's vacuum cylinder removed from within the framesBack at Preston the dismantling of GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643, in connection with its ten-year boiler overhaul, has continued with the removal of its vacuum cylinder, which has been plucked out from within the frames.

Sam working to remove on of 5643's radial springsSam is seen here working to remove one of the radial wheel springs.

Fred demonstrating that a cup wire brush has to be completely bald before asking for a new brush!Meanwhile Fred has once again been busy removing old paint and dirt from components. As can be seen here, he doesn’t ask for a new cup wire brush until the old brush is completely bald!

Anne and Phil Burton working on the upholstery in the guard's compartment of GER No. 5Work has also continued apace on the completion of the restoration of Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5. Anne and Phil Burton have been working on upholstering the guard’s compartment.

John Davis fitting chenille at the east end of the east saloon of GER No. 5Whilst John Davies and Tim have been busy fitting the remainder of the chenille on the side panels of the east saloon and corridor.

John Dixon cleaning up the corridor floor of GER No. 5Sam has completed the wiring of the lights and Phil Bell has started to lay the linoleum on the kitchen floor. John Dixon has been removing old wood and nails from the corridor floor.

A plywood floor base is being laid before the carpet is fitted in GER No. 5He has then commenced the job of laying a plywood base in readiness for the fitting of the new carpet.

Latest Iron HorseFinally, FRT Members should now be receiving the latest edition of The Iron Horse magazine.

Monday 11th July 2023

First, we start with the good news that Cast Iron Welding Services of Coalville have now been able to submit a price for the repair of Furness Railway No. 20’s right hand piston and front cylinder cover, which has been accepted. This part of the overall repair should be completed in the next three weeks after which it will be possible to reassemble the motion. Once completed and tested, FR 20 will be able to continue its hire to the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway. Operating dates will be published once they can be confirmed.

5643 now down to a rolling chassisBack at Preston, work has started in earnest on 5643’s rolling chassis which is now located in the main FRT shed. Removal of the bunker for the first time in preservation has revealed some wasted angle support which is now being cut away so that it can be replaced.

5643's boiler ready to be worked uponThe boiler is now in the outer shed and work on descaling it has also commenced. It is expected that the tubes will now be removed in August.

Ade working on Caliban's valve rod coversAde has once again been working on Caliban and is seen here fitting the valve rod covers.

Alison is arranging for some carpet samples to be brought in for Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5. Measuring up for an estimate will take place this Wednesday.

John Dixon cutting rot from GER No. 5's floorMeanwhile, John Davis spotted some unwelcome rot in the corridor floor last week which John Dixon can be seen cutting out.

Cumbria's ashpan sprinkler in actionOver at Embsay, Hunslet ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Cumbria has been having a boiler wash out. Matt Anderson has taken the opportunity to remove the grate and fit an ashpan sprinkler, which can be seen in action above. Looks good!

The sprinkler take off in the cabThe second photo shows the arrangement in the cab.

Monday 3rd July 2023

5643's boiler is lifted off the frames.The big news this week is that GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643’s boiler was lifted out of the frames for assessment and repair in foul weather last Friday afternoon.

Keith burning off the ashpan retaining boltsPart of the operation involved removing the ashpan from underneath 5643’s firebox before it could be settled down on the weltrol. Keith is seen here applying some heat to release the retaining bolts.

5643's bunker touches downPrior to that, Caliban’s boiler had been lifted to a position alongside the shed to make way for 5643’s boiler on the weltrol. 5643’s bunker has also been lifted off for inspection and repairs.

Ed descales one of 5643's water tanksOther work has continued on 5643 with Ed descaling one of the tanks in between the showers last Wednesday.

Upholstering of the new guard's compartment bench seat in progressUpholstering of Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5 is still in full swing with a glimpse here of work on the new foam bench seat in the guard’s compartment.

John Davis removing a door step and tacks from GER No. 5John Davis has removed the carpet in the east saloon and is seen removing a door step and unwanted tacks from the floor.

John Dixon cleaning the royal sh*t potJohn Dixon has been giving the royal loo a good clean…..

The royal loo seat varnished and ready for a royal bum…..whilst Tim has given the loo seat a coat of varnish – think he got the better of the two jobs!

Finally, for FRT members, just to let you know that Alan has been busy putting together the latest edition of The Iron Horse magazine which, hopefully, should be sent off for printing this week.