Monday 29th April 2019

The job of re-boring Caliban’s cylinders was finished last Tuesday by Team Marrow, which marks the completion of another important stage in its overhaul.

Cumbria being prepared on Sunday, 28th AprilAde got himself out of bed at an early hour to light up Cumbria (thank you, Ade) so that it could undergo a pre-hire inspection in steam by Tony Wright of the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway. All went well and Cumbria then went on to appear at the RSR’s Spring Steam Gala on Saturday and Sunday. It is seen here being prepared on Sunday morning and also at the head of the 11.30 train from Riverside station on Saturday with Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0ST No. 1208 Illingworth (also bound for Embsay in the near future) on the rear.Cumbria on the 11.30 train at Riverside Saturday 27th April

A myriad of jobs have been taking place at Preston. John Dixon measuring one of Wottoon Hall's axleboxes in order to make a pattern for a missing piece.John Dixon has been measuring up one of Wootton Hall‘s tender axleboxes so that he can make a pattern for a casting to repair some damage.

John Davis at work on Wootton hall's tender tankJohn Davis has been spending more time working on Wootton Hall‘s new tender tank.

Roger Benbow getting down to work on Fr 20's boiler crinolinesTim has again been cleaning up FR 20’s frames whilst Roger Benbow set to work on cleaning up the crinolines for FR 20’s boiler.

Fred has cleaned up the platform ticket machine pedestal ready for it to be re-painted.

The new running board support on FluffWork has also continued on Fowler 0-4-0DM Fluff where a replacement running board support, fabricated by John Stewart, has been fitted.

5643 at work at EmbsayOver at Embsay, 5643 has been busy turning its wheels again and we have an Instagram photo here of it on a dining train there.

Mystery photoAlso, Mike Rigg has submitted a mystery photo for you identify. Answer next week.

Finally the fruits of our Treasurer’s work on the 2018 accounts have been delivered today to the Independent Examiner for scrutiny. We shall no doubt have to fix up an AGM soon.

Tuesday 23rd April 2019

Just a brief post-Easter update this week for you…

Alan peers into the fireman's side clackbox on CumbriaWork at Preston last Wednesday concentrated on following up issues brought to light from the test steaming of Cumbria two days earlier. Alan is seen here peering into the fireman’s side clackbox to try and identify the cause of a small steam pass.

John Dixon spent an uncomfortable time underneath the loco on replacing cotters which hold the ashpan in place. He then set about cleaning out the slide bar trimmings on Friday. Cumbria is due for another steam test tomorrow (Wednesday) and is then due to take part in the RSR’s Spring Steam Gala this weekend. After that, if all is well, it should shortly be heading off to Embsay to join the FRT’s GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643 which is currently holding the fort there until reinforcements arrive.

Work on our Fowler 0-4-0DM Fluff continues and it is hoped to lift out the engine in the not-too-distant future, assuming that a shunt can be arranged.

Phil Scales and John Davis at work on Wootton Hall's tender tankFinally, outside the shed, work has continued on cleaning off and painting of Wootton Hall‘s recently purchased tender tank. In action on this are Phil Scales and John Davis (above) and Ed Tatham (below).Ed paints Wootton Hall's tender tank


Monday 15th April 2019

John Dixon fits the drivers side water valve on CumbriaThe Trust’s ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Cumbria was once again the centre of attention this last week as final preparations were made for a test steaming. The loco had a second washout on Wednesday and the mudhole doors and washout plugs were refitted. Alan finished fitting the regulator quadrant and John Dixon is seen here fitting the driver’s side water valve.

Phil Bell touches up the paint on Cumbria's nameplatePhil Scales and Phil Bell continued the task of sprucing up the appearance of the loco with the latter touching up the black paint on the nameplates.

On Friday Ed pulled Cumbria out of the shed, cleaned the firebox and emptied the ashpan. The boiler was also filled but it was decided to delay the test steaming until today when there would be more people to assist and more time for testing.

Cumbria back in steam with members Keith, Ade and Dave StarkieAde appeared bright and early this morning and had Cumbria lit up by 8.15. Steam was raised just after 1.oo and the pressure brought up slowly. Tim and Matt Jervis were looking at the drain cocks closely with fingers crossed as steam built up, to detect whether the regulator or ‘J’ pipe were passing steam, but all was well. The afternoon was spent chasing up steam leaks on cab fittings and then moving the loco to test the regulator and brakes. Tim tightens the steam brake pipe to Cumbria's manifoldTim is seen here tightening up the brake steam pipe to the manifold whilst Alan looks on.

On the whole the exercise was deemed to be a success although there is a list of things to follow up on Wednesday when the engine has cooled down.

Wootton Hall's new gauge frame castingsA notable arrival this week has a package with the castings for Wootton Hall’s gauge frame.

Part of the historic collection?Finally, when Tim went to the NRM at Shildon on Saturday for a training day, he came across an upstand advert inviting volunteers to work with the NRM’s historic collection featuring none other than Alan – is he now officially part of the NRM’s historic collection, we wonder?!

Monday 8th April 2019

Ade and John Dixon propel Cumbria's 'J 'pipe up a ladder whilst Phil Bell hauls on the safety rope and Alan watches on in the backgroundThe main centre of activity this week has once again been the Trust’s ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Cumbria as members have expedited the completion of the remainder of the winter maintenance programme. The key event on Wednesday was the task of re-installing the ‘J’ pipe and regulator valves. The photo shows John and Ade in the process of pushing the extremely heavy ‘J’ pipe rung by rung up a ladder whilst Phil Bell hauls on the safety rope to prevent it from dropping back down the ladder. It was a little unconventional, but was deemed to be the safest method – and what’s more, it worked. Matt Jervis was on top of the saddle tank to receive the ‘J’ pipe and secure it back on to the main steam pipe. By the end of Wednesday all was ready for the dome cover to be re-fitted, which was achieved on Friday.

John Dixon gives one of the water valves a good cleanAlan tackled the job of re-fitting the regulator stuffing box on Friday and John Dixon had completed the servicing of the water valves. Phil Bell and Roger re-fitted the balance pipe after a through clean. Phil Scales applies a coat of black paint to Cumbria's running board.The last job on Friday was the completion by Tim of the fresh coat of black paint on the running board and cab steps that had been started on Wednesday by both Phils.Cumbria, with shiny running board, ready to leave the FRT shed

Cumbria on the way into the running shed on Saturday morningRuss Walker kindly offered to arrange the movement of Cumbria around to the running shed on Saturday morning so that a further wash-out can be carried out this week, the plugs and mudhole doors be re-inserted, and (hopefully) a fire lit. It will be a case of fingers crossed as we check out the results of everyone’s labours over the past three months.

Caliban's boiler over the pit in the FRT shed with FR 20's boiler in the backgroundCumbria has been replaced in the shed by Caliban‘s boiler, which can be seen here with FR 20’s boiler in the background.

Wootton Hall's tender shows off its new undercoat greenWork has, as ever, continued on Fluff, the former L&NWR platform bench seat, and Wootton Hall‘s tender tank, which has now received a fresh coat of undercoat green on the first side to be cleaned off.


Monday 1st April 2019

Caliban's re-bore underway on tday, 26th MarchBryn Engineering started the re-bore of Caliban‘s cylinders last Tuesday and continued into Wednesday. There is still some work to be completed which will be done shortly.

The main focus of activity has been on Cumbria which needs to be back in traffic at Embsay as soon as possible. Tim has completed his work on the ‘J’ pipe valve faces and Bill Norcross has machined two new bolts to hold the ‘J’ pipe in place which replace existing bolts with worn threads. It is hoped to be able to put this all back together this next week.

The clack on the newly refurbished fireman’s side clack box has been ground in and Alan Middleton has silver soldered a new joint on to one of the brake valve pipes. Alan silver soldering a joint on one of Cumbria's brake valve pipesAgain, the brake valve should be re-mounted this next week.

Phil Bell starts the job of undercoating Cumbria's running boardThe running board and cab steps have received a coat of grey undercoat paint, courtesy of Phil Bell (pictured) and Roger.Undercoat now applied!

Outside, work has continued on cleaning old paint from the new tender tank for Wootton Hall. Six repaired and two new springs for the tender have been delivered to Preston, and news from CMS Cepcor in Leicestershire is that the wheelsets have been in the lathe for re-profiling.

John Dixon undertook a variety of minor work on FR 20’s frames whilst anyone else spare this last week has continued the work on Fluff‘s frames.

With thanks for the image, from Embsay's Facebook siteFinally, over at the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway, 5643 was, as planned, in steam for Mother’s Day.

Monday 25th March 2019

We start this week’s blog with the good news that 5643 successfully operated a train from Embsay to Bolton Abbey yesterday, double-heading with Taff Vale 0-6-2T No.85 – a rare case of two ‘Taffy Tanks’ operating together! The run successfully drew to a conclusion the winter work on 5643 which has included the replacement of three stays. Well done to Keith and his team.

Cumbria's running board ready for undercoat.Back at Preston, it has very much been a case of ‘more of the same’ as our members have continued to clean up the Trust’s ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Cumbria. The running plate and cab steps have been rubbed down and primed ready for the undercoat to be applied this week. Phil Scales rubs down Cumbria's cab stepsNew member Phil Scales is seen here busy with the sand paper.

Work has also continued on Cumbria‘s regulator valve which has given trouble over the past year. We’ll spare you yet another photo of Bob with his feeler gauges but we can report that the sliding brass faces are very much close to being finished. Tim came in on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday to try and tame the ‘J’ pipe, which is also looking much closer to the finishing line.

Alan Ogden has re-appeared from the south west to continue his work on Fluff‘s electrical systems whilst Howard, John Davis and David, among others, have again been working on the frames.

There is promise of further progress on Caliban this week with John Marrow due to arrive tomorrow and Wednesday to re-bore the cylinders.

56090 on a RSR passenger train 230319Saturday and Sunday marked the start of 2019 passenger services on the Ribble Steam Railway with a successful Diesel Gala. Guest Colas C0-C0 locomotive No. 56 090 is seen here on the end of one of the trains.

Finally, we conclude with further good news in that the lease for the Furness Railway Trust Shed has been executed today. It appears that years of persistence have paid off and thanks go to everyone who has been involved in what has turned out to be rather a long drawn out process. We have a home that we can rightly call our very own at last!

Monday 18th March 2019

Work continues on preparing the Trust’s two current operational locomotives for the forthcoming operating season.

Bob and Tim spent last Wednesday and Friday with their noses literally to the grindstone as they strove to face up Cumbria‘s regulator valve with the ‘J’ pipe. Howard, with John Davis as apprentice, ran the surface grinder over the steel plate that had previously been cut by Keith to enable carborundum paste to be applied to the surfaces, having detected a bow in it. Bob uses a feeler gauge to check progress with work on Cumbria's regulator valveBob is seen applying his feeler gauge to check test progress. By the end of Friday both the regulator valve and the ‘J’ pipe were deemed to be in much better shape although further work will be required this next week. In view of time pressures, Tim spent another day on the job today.

Phil rubs down Cumbria's running boardThe spruce up of Cumbria has also continued apace, led by John Dixon and assisted by Phil Bell and Phil Scales. The running board is receiving a rub down with a view to giving it a fresh coat of black paint in the near future.

Turning to our other operational loco, Keith and Fred went to Embsay on Saturday to undertake a washout on 5643. Keith’s description of the weather is unprintable here, for both he and Fred got soaked to the skin. Fortunately, after having put the loco back into one piece, a fire was lit on Sunday and, at relatively low pressure, the newly fitted stays appeared satisfactory. Keith plans a further visit on Thursday to complete the fitting of firebox cladding before returning at the weekend to undertake a full steam test.

Adrian was been busy on FR 20’s heavy general overhaul on Wednesday where he removed the valve chest cover and split the right hand piston rod from the cross head. Ade has his eyes on splitting the left hand rod and cross head next week. This will then enable the pistons to be extracted for the piston rings to be changed. Alan inspects FR 20's valve chestAlan is seen here on Friday inspecting the results of Ade’s endeavours.

Roger Benbow cleans FR 20's drawhook springRoger spent more time cleaning, in this case up FR 20’s drawhook spring.

Keith has, as expected, been busy with Wootton Hall where he has connected up the rear vacuum pipe on the tender. Bill Norcross test fits a newly machined axlebox brassBill Norcross has started the machining of the new axlebox brasses and completed the first successful fitting into an axlebox on Friday.


Monday 11th March 2019

Last Wednesday’s working party included an optional visit with RSR colleagues to the Commercial Vehicle Museum at Leyland, which was very much enjoyed by those who went. Some went off afterwards to review the learning points from the visit in one of the local hostelries (!) whilst others returned to Preston to continue their work on the FRT’s current projects.

Phil Bell and John Dixon getting to grips with cleaning Cumbria's motion and framesA great deal of progress was made on both Wednesday and Friday with the thorough clean being given to Cumbria. Roger, Phil Bell,  and John Dixon have concentrated their efforts on the frames, motion and brake rigging whilst John Davis worked on the wheels.

Cumbria's J pipe after machiningMatt Jervis had successfully removed the ‘J’ pipe from the boiler which was subsequently machined by Bill Norcross.

Bob with Cumbria's regulator valveBob and Tim spent all their time on Friday (strictly limited number of tea breaks!) in their efforts to produce flat polished surfaces on both the regulator valve and ‘J’ pipe faces. Keith had kindly manufactured a flat steel plate to size with which to apply the carborundum paste although one or two high spots on the cast iron ‘J’ pipe needed some rather more aggressive attention! The task is still quite a way from completion and more work is planned for this next week.

Over at Embsay, Matt has successfully reamed and tapped out the three stay holes on the backhead of 5643’s firebox. On Saturday he then fitted and caulked up the  new stays, which had conveniently arrived at Preston on Friday. A working party is planned for next Saturday during which it is hoped to conduct a washout of the boiler after which, if all is well, a warming fire will be lit in anticipation of a steam test next Sunday.

And as usual, there was further work this week on Fluff, with Howard making an additional visit on Friday to surprise us all!

Monday 4th March 2019

There may have been a fortnight’s gap in publishing a blog, but you can be assured that there has been plenty of work going on during that time.

Ade tries out the cherry pickerA major project completed has been the installation of the new overhead safety wire system on road three of both the heated and unheated sections of the FRT shed. Wednesday, 20th February was spent on moving various pieces of equipment out of the way and taking delivery of a cherry picker and tower scaffold for use of the installers. That didn’t stop Adrian getting a few instructions on how to operate the cherry picker in order that it could be stowed away safely overnight.

There was a very early start on Thursday, 21st February as the rolling stock on road three had to be removed by 8 o’clock so as not to delay the installation process. Adrian, Mike, John Dixon and Tim duly appeared in good time for this to happen. Diesel shunter Stanlow No. 4 had been moved around to the Ribble Rail shed the previous day in readiness for the early start.

A lindapter being fitted to carry the new safety wireFortunately, despite a short power outage, work progressed steadily during the day. John Dixon and Mike getting on with the housework with the rolling stock out of the wayWith the rolling stock now out of the way, the opportunity was also taken to undertake a thorough clean of the central section of the shed including the pit.

Mike being rigged upMike Rigg volunteered to try on one of the new harnesses and is seen here getting rigged up (geddit?!) with the assistance of Joe Jackson from Trad Safety Systems. Rear view of Mike in his harnessA rear view of Mike shows the correct position, between the shoulder blades, for the metal loop to which the back strap should be attached. The installers finished a little later than planned, but all the rolling stock was back in the shed by 17.30 and Stanlow moved back home to the main running shed.  A full operating instruction for the overhead safety wire system has been written and is available both in the mess room and in the harness storage drawer in the shed filing cabinet.

A new look in the shed with Cumbria and FR 20 over the pitOne side benefit from the upheaval in the shed was the opportunity to re-marshal the rolling stock so that Cumbria and FR 20 could be positioned over the pit to assist maintenance and repairs.

Meanwhile, we have been keeping Matt Jervis busy as he and Keith paid a visit to Embsay last Tuesday to remove three stays from 5643’s firebox backhead for replacement. A further visit is planned shortly to ream and tap out the holes after which new stays will be ordered. Matt has also been involved with the removal of Cumbria‘s regulator valve and ‘J’ pipe. The worn faces on the ‘J’ pipe are a clear indication of the cause of the passing of steam whilst the regulator has supposedly been shut.

With Cumbria now more accessible over the pit, more hours have been spent in removing a build up of oily dirt from the frames, brake rigging and motion. Although there will be more to do in the coming weeks, there has already been a vast improvement in the state of the loco.

Keith cuts up the old tender tank for Wootton HallOutside, Keith has been busy on repairs to the newly acquired tender tank for Wootton Hall and also in cutting up the original which, unfortunately, was well past being repaired. Alan has been loosening nuts with a view to removing FR 20’s valve chest cover and Adrian has been undercoating Caliban‘s frames. Work on Fluff progresses as well.


Monday 18th February 2019

We never seem to be short anything to do at the moment.

The boiler surveyor inspector examined FR 20’s boiler last Tuesday and, apart from a couple of issues, found it to be in good health. There are two corner screws to change as the heads inside the firebox have wasted and the ‘J’ pipe needs to be examined further to check against possible corrosion.

The main event on Wednesday was to conduct a wash out on Cumbria. There was a fair amount of scale on the foundation ring so John, Tim and Ade all took turns in blasting it with the water pump lance and scraping out the sediment. Ade in between Cumbria's frames with the water lanceAde is pictured here under the frames with the lance.

Ade ready for a shuntAde also received some driving instruction on Sentinel diesels and is seen here about Cumbria ready to do the shunt at the end of the washout.

There was further progress on Fluff with John Davis, Howard and Phil Bell all contributing to the task. We now have two Phils on a Wednesday, the other doing a good job cleaning up Cumbria‘s cab.

A wheelset from FR20 in the latheJeff Nixon at CMS Cepcor managed to find a slot on Thursday to undertake the skimming of the journals on FR 20’s tender wheelsets. He kindly sent us some footage of one of the wheelsets in the lathe.

John Dixon fastens down Fr 20's cab floorAfter having gloss painted FR 20’s drag box and underside of the cab floor on Wednesday, John then bolted down the floor on Friday.

Roger cleans between Cumbria's framesRoger kindly took on the task of cleaning Cumbria between the frames, making use of his head torch.

Fred cleans scale out of Wootton Hall's tender tankBob was missing from Friday’s working party (too busy consulting his lawyer regarding scurrilous accusations in a previous blog?!), however Fred spent his time cleaning out scale from the floor of Wootton Hall‘s tender tank.

Bill Norcross machines a tender axlebox underkeep for Wootton Hall.Bill Norcross has been busy machining the new underkeeps for Wootton Hall‘s tender axleboxes.The axlebox keep being milled

Alan clean's up FR 20's firebox tube plateAfter Alan had inspected and cleaned the tubeholes on FR 20’s boiler, Friday afternoon was spent loading the new tubes into place. A supply chain was set up to hand over the tubes to Tim and John Dixon, who placed them into the boiler and applied suitable force where necessary. Meanwhile Alan spent his time in the firebox guiding the tubes into the correct hole and shouting suitable forms of encouragement to those loading the tubes. All in all, a very busy couple of hours!

George appeared on Saturday and did some work on Cumbria‘s steam brake.

The installation of a new overhead safety wire system is booked for this coming Thursday. The rolling stock will have to be moved out of road three in both the heated and unheated sections of the shed by 08.00 to enable access for both a cherry picker and tower scaffold, which are due to be delivered to site on Wednesday. There will also be a need to move various items out of the way on Wednesday to enable the work to take place. There will be training on the new safety system at the end of the day on Thursday, so all are welcome to attend. Hopefully, everything will be back to normal the following week.

We have received details of the funeral of former Live Steam guitarist, Stuart Bennett (see last week’s blog). A service will be held on Friday 1st March at 10.30 in St. James’ Church, Blake Street, Barrow followed by cremation and a wake, provisionally to be held at the Royal British Legion in Holker Street.

Please note that owing to the Blog Putter Upper going off on a jolly abroad next week without his laptop, there will be no blog next Monday.