Monday 22nd October 2018

With Tim taking a short walking break in the Scottish Lowlands this week, the blog has been compiled from notes and photos provided by Mike.

Ade and John Dixon continued work on Caliban and FR 20 respectively last Wednesday whilst Howard, John Davis and Mike worked on Fluff, removing part of the footplate and also some of the gear linkages which are stiff.

Newly riveted foot steps for Wootton Hall's tenderKeith was busy preparing for another riveting session on Thursday. The footsteps shown in last week’s blog have now had the steps riveted into place permanently.

Matt Gervis and Keith Brewer riveting Wootton Hall's tender framesMatt Gervis and Keith are seen here riveting whilst an aerial shot shows Wootton Hall’s tender frames and also Chris Rycroft, who was cutting the rivets to size.Aeirial view of Matt Gervis, Keith and Chris Rycroft during riveting operations

John Dixon heating up a rivetJohn Dixon is seen here heating up one of the rivets; a total of around 50 were fitted last Thursday.

John Davis and Paul Newton emptying the PMVThe main event on Friday was the emptying of the newly acquired PMV in readiness for the body to be removed.PMV ready for body removal

The chassis will eventually be used for the second class North London Railway coach body which is currently in store at Blackpool. In the shorter term it may well be used to store the frames for FR 25 when they arrive from Carnforth.

Fred and Bob were also present on Friday with Fred cleaning FR 20’s components and Bob preparing drawings for Wootton Hall.

Newly manufactured cog for Wootton Hall's reverserIn the main workshop Bill Norton has machined up a cog which will eventually form part of Wootton Hall‘s reverser – it is seen here with the reverser handle.

Saturday saw the removal of some Sentinel wheels from the Weltrol which is planned to be used to accommodate FR 20’s boiler. Hopefully a boiler lift can be arranged this week.

Looking forward, there are Spooky Trains at the Ribble Steam Railway this next weekend and it won’t be too long before the Santa Specials in December. Alison is looking for help for anyone who can assist with the latter trains.

Monday 15th October 2018

FR 20’s boiler is now ready for lifting after more concerted work by our friendly alien who answers to the name of John – see last week’s blog. Ade is on standby to do the necessary shunt with the receiving wagon and we await further details as to when the lift can be arranged.

Meanwhile, work continues on cleaning up and painting the various components that have been removed from FR 20, with Fred and Tim making further progress. Once painted, the labelled components are placed into store.

Paul Balshaw painting Caliban's cabAde has once again been prettying Caliban‘s frames with his paint brush whilst Paul Balshaw and John Davis have been making the most of some decent weather by putting more undercoat paint on the cab. John Davis painting Caliban's cabRoger has continued his work on cleaning and painting the eccentrics.

Wootton Hall's tender cab steps ready for rivetingThere has been more work on Wootton Hall including the behind the scenes preparation of drawings by Bob who was present on Friday. The Thursday riveting gang of Keith, John Dixon and Matt Gervis has again convened. This photo taken last Wednesday shows the steps which give access to the cab ready for attention from the rivet gun.

There was good news on the former FRT RMB’s electrics, which had been causing heads to be scratched when the batteries wouldn’t charge. Russ Walker found a faulty fuse – but one which had supposedly already been checked and found to be OK! Anyhow, this success should enable Mike to get up off his knees and attend to other things. Incidentally, Mike and Dave Starkie attended a carriage workshop at the East Lancashire railway last Wednesday which Mike says was very useful.

Howard and Keith with FluffThere has been further progress with Fluff – Howard and Keith are seen here discussing the work in hand. John Davis also did some work on cleaning the footplate on Friday.

Paul Newton at work with the L&NWR platform seatWork on the L&NWR platform seat from Preston station has also continued and Paul Newton is seen here doing some woodwork.

Richard Greenwood's photo of Wootton Hall south of Eastliegh on 3rd November 1961Finally, we wanted to share a photo from British Railways days of the FRT’s GWR ‘Hall’ Class 4-6-0 No. 4979 Wootton Hall which has been kindly sent to us today by Richard Greenwood. It shows the locomotive heading south from Eastleigh with what was presumably an inter-regional train, probably heading for Southampton and Bournemouth, on the 3rd November 1961. Thanks, Richard.

Monday 8th October 2018

There has been a wide variety of progress on the various tasks at Preston this week.

John Dixon prepares to do battle in FR 20'a smokeboxDr Who returned on TV last night, but this photo is not of an invading alien creature but of John Dixon readying himself to remove more stubborn bolts from inside FR 20’s smokebox! We are pleased to be able to record that John won the battle with the bolts and that, subject to the removal of some concrete on Wednesday, the boiler should then be ready for lifting.

Fred has been cleaning up more of FR 20’s components whilst Tim has been painting them ready for storage.

John Davis working on the gutter of the GER Royal SaloonWith the weather turning inclement, John Davis and Paul Balshaw commenced the task of removing the steel screws that hold the gutter on Royal Saloon GER No. 5 in place. This is to enable the canvas to be removed and replaced. Unfortunately, the screws have probably been in place for some sixty years so they are proving to be extremely stubborn to extract!

Ade attending to the paintwork on Caliban's framesRoger has been preparing and painting the eccentrics on Caliban‘s driving wheelset whilst Ade has continued the task of preparing and painting Caliban’s underframes a very bright red.

Jim Hanmer removing a bolt holding Fluff's engineThere has been some welcome movement forward in the overhaul of Fluff. Anthony has been joined by Howard, Alan Preston and Jim Hanmer. Their combined efforts have released the engine mounting bolts which will enable it to be lifted out. Alan Preston with FluffIt is planned that this will take place when FR 20 is shunted into the FRT shed after its boiler lift.

Mike peers into the RMB's regulator boxMike has continued his work to track down electrical faults on the former FRT RMB. He is seen here investigating the regulator box.

Ted finishing the paintwork around the new gardenOutside, Ted has made good progress with the garden adjacent to the path to the FRT shed and alongside the new playground.

The new children’s playground was successfully opened on Saturday afternoon by John Gilmour of Radio Lancashire. This coincided with the RSR’s Autumn Diesel Gala and was followed by a successful Folk Evening with Fleetwood Folk Club in the new Exploration Room.

Finally, we have received confirmation that the funeral of Charles Maher will take place at Crosscrake Church at 1 pm this Wednesday, 10th October.

Monday 1st October 2018

We start this week’s blog with the breaking news that Charles Maher, former general manager and chairman of the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway died last night after a short illness. There are no further details at present. We offer our condolences to his wife, Barbara, and family.

There has been some reasonable weather this week which has enabled a couple of the outdoor jobs to be completed.

Alison and playgroundWe have a photo of Alison sitting on one of the picnic benches in the children’s playground where the ground works have at last been finished. It looks good!

Seven people and a gateThere was just the small matter of fixing the gate to the path alongside the playground where a total of seven people can be seen either watching or undertaking the job… (well twas ever thus on the big railway, so… )

Bill Croston at work on the muralOne final piece of the jigsaw to be fitted is the new mural which will be mounted on the back of the toilet block, which is adjacent to the playground. Bill Croston is seen here putting the finishing touches to the mural on Saturday.

Although the playground is due to be officially opened next Saturday by John Gilmour of BBC Radio Lancashire, that didn’t stop some children enjoying the new facility over the Steam Gala weekend this last Saturday and Sunday. Illingworth awaits its next turn of dutyAs previously reported, Stephen Middleton’s Hudswell Clark 0-6-0ST No. 1208 of 1916 Illingworth/Mitchell was the guest locomotive.

John Davis and Caliban's cabAnother job that was completed this week was a coat of undercoat on Caliban‘s cab. John Davis is seen here with the brush.

John Dixon has been busy preparing FR 20 for its boiler lift, working hard to remove the last stubborn nuts and bolts from the main steam pipe. We will spare you another photo of John’s rear end sticking out of the smokebox. Meanwhile, Fred has again been cleaning up the components removed from the loco and Tim has been giving them a fresh coat of paint.

Ade and a shrunken AlanRoger has been giving another coat of red oxide to Caliban‘s wheelsets whilst Ade has been trial fitting the axleboxes on Caliban and agreeing clearances with Alan. The latter pair are both seen here, but Alan seems to have shrunk in the wash!

tender stepsProgress continues on Wootton Hall with yet another riveting session taking place last Thursday, resulting in these footsteps for the tender.

George reamingGeorge made an appearance on Saturday and can be seen reaming a hole on the Hall’s tender, which will receive a fitted bolt manufactured by Bill Norcross to secure one of the hornguides.

Wootton Hall's new reverser handleProgress has also been made on the creation of a screw reverser handle for Wootton Hall; more machining is still required.

NS 601 ready to leave the RSRFinally, for the record, English Electric built Nederlandse Spoorwegan diesel electric shunter No. 601 left the RSR on Wednesday to be returned to Holland for industrial use.

Monday 24th September 2018

5643 on the 12.00 to Bolton AbbeyWe start this week’s blog with the welcome news that 5643 has at last re-entered service at the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway following a lengthy lay off of nearly a year as a result of the need to renew the small tubes in the boiler. Keith attended to the safety valves last Tuesday and the boiler surveyor then gave the go-ahead for the loco to be used. A successful test train to Bolton Abbey was run on Friday following which 5643 operated the railway’s service on Saturday, seen here at Embsay with the 12.00 to Bolton Abbey.

Cumbria and 5643 at EmbsayThe following photo shows 5643 doing a yard shunt in between trains and also the FRT’s ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Cumbria which was about to be tested following the replacement of the clack box on the backhead by Keith last Tuesday.

Paul Balshaw and John Davis put red oxide on Caliban's cabWednesday turned out to be a rare dry day at Preston which enabled John Davis and Paul Balshaw to put another coat of red oxide on Caliban‘s cab and we hope that the weather this week will enable a layer of undercoat to be applied to protect the recently shot-blasted metal.

FR 20 'undressed'FR 20 has been moved out of the RSR workshop which enabled both Ade, Tim and John Dixon to move the cab sides and spectacle plate to the FRT shed on a borrowed large supermarket trolley which did the job perfectly.Supermarket sweep

Howard took the angle grinder to Fluff to release some bolts and Ade continued his beautification of Caliban‘s inside frames by rubbing down the paintwork with wet and dry paper.

Thursday saw another riveting session take placed on Wootton Hall‘s tender frames, with Matt Gervis, Keith and John Dixon doing the work again.

Tim, John Dixon and John Davis removed the fibreglass insulation from FR 20’s boiler on Friday and stored it on top of the tender. There are not too many jobs now to undertake before the boiler is ready for lifting. It is intended to remove the ashpan next Wednesday and this will enable formers to be prepared for the future new brick arch before we demolish the existing arch.

Fred and Bob appeared on Friday with Fred cleaning up more of FR 20’s components whilst Bob concentrated on preparing drawings of components for Wootton Hall‘s tender. Mike Rigg continued his work of sorting the bar electrics in the former FRT buffet car.

The TPO coach makes a rare out door appearance 210918Friday also saw the RSR’s TPO coach make a rare appearance outside the museum, still glistening after its recent paint job in the FRT shed.

70 802 in the RSR running shedElsewhere at the RSR there was an unexpected visitor in the running shed  when Colas Class 70 No. 70 802 took up residence pending the rectification of a track fault on the Strand Road level crossing.

Nearly finished - the new children's playgroundThe children’s playground is nearly ready for use, much to Alison’s relief. Work was delayed due to rain so completion of the groundworks was put back until Saturday. An official opening by Radio Lancashire’s John Gilmour is now scheduled for Saturday, 6th October.

70013 at Locomotion, ShildonFinally, it has been traditional for some FRT members to attend Locomotion’s Autumn Steam Gala at Shildon. Although FR 20 wasn’t on show there this year, Alan, Alison, Tim, Dickon and Peter van Zeller still braved the A66 roadworks to meet up with the Locomotion team, assist operations and to make or renew their acquaintance with visiting National Collection ‘Britannia’ Pacific 4-6-0 No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell plus Peckett 0-6-0ST No. 1970 of 1939 Ashington No.5/JackieMilburn from the North Tyneside Railway. Ashington No. 5 at LocomotionFortunately the weather was better than originally forecast and a good time was had by all.

Monday 17th September 2018

There is plenty of news this week.

Firstly there has been some very welcome success at Embsay to report. Keith and Ade went there on Wednesday to re-fit the regulator box using a specially prepared copper gasket following the previous failure of a graphite foil gasket. Keith and Fred then went to Embsay on Saturday and, with the assistance of staff there, fitted the superheater elements and lit a warming fire. Keith was back there again on Sunday morning with steam successfully raised to working pressure. There is just one further piece of work to do to correct one of the safety valves which is lifting light which Keith will attend to on Tuesday. A formal steam test can then be arranged to take place in the presence of the boiler surveyor.

Keith also brought back Cumbria‘s fireman’s side injector from Embsay to Preston for attention. Bill Norton with Cumbria's fireman's side stem valveBill Norton is seen here preparing to machine the joint face which had developed some unevenness on the surface which, together with some pitting on the firebox backhead had caused a gasket to blow.

Further progress was made on Wednesday and Friday with the stripping down of FR 20 in readiness for a boiler lift. John Dixon at work in FR 20's smokeboxJohn Dixon released the blast pipe nuts on Wednesday. FR 20 with steel cladding removedThen on Friday the massed forces of John, Tim, Alan, Fred and Roger managed to removed the tightly fitted steel boiler cladding (or clothing as John has pointed out it was called by the LMS) and then the crinolines. This was all transferred from the RSR workshop to the FRT shed ready for cleaning and painting.

Fred cleans up one of FR 20's sand pipesFred also managed to find time to clean up one of FR 20’s sand pipes whilst Roger occupied himself by giving a set of Caliban’s wheels a second coat of red oxide.Roger gives another coat of red oxide to Caliban's wheels

John Davis gave FR 20’s tender coal space a coat of grey undercoat on Wednesday and then started the job of preparing GERs’s bogies for a repaint.

A ghostly Mike Rigg in the former FRT RMBMike Rigg has continued his work to get the fan behind the former FRT RMB counter re-fitted and working. This has entailed the fitting of fresh woodwork to support the fan and the installation of conduit and wiring. Also in his sights is the aim to get the counter lights to work again. Mike is seen here preparing the wood framework to receive the fan.

The corner posts on the cabin in the correct shade of yellowThe corner posts on the FRT’s mess cabin have been painted to a shade of yellow which has met with the satisfaction of John Dixon, who was keen that they blended in with the FRT shed situated behind the cabin. Tim reckoned that we needed some canary yellow and remembered painting the FRT kayak that colour some thirty years ago. Sure enough Tim found the remainder of that undercoat and gloss paint at the back of his garage, which turned out to be enough to cover the corner posts. It just underlines the male argument that you should never throw anything away that might be useful at some time in the future!

Finally, we reported last week the sad death of member Jeff Mimnagh. We have now been informed that his funeral will take place at 1 pm on Wednesday, 26th September at All Saints Church, New Longton.


Tuesday 11th September 2018

A day late this week, probably because there don’t appear to be enough hours in the day at the moment!

Unfortunately we start with the sad news that Jeff Mimnargh died in hospital last Saturday. Jeff was a member of the LRC and LRS in the very early days (membership number 0075) who lived at Leyland and was a regular at the Friday evening get-togethers in the Railway Inn at Lostock Hall. He rejoined the FRT after the purchase of Wootton Hall. We are also very sorry to have to record the death of RSR member Jimmy Gardner, who helped out the FRT with his white metalling skills. Jimmy’s funeral will take place at Blackpool Crematorium at 10.00 on Friday. We offer our condolences to both Jeff and Jimmy’s families.

Turning to FRT projects, there was further progress to report at Preston last week.

Tim finished off the gloss coat of grey on the mess cabin, which just awaits the yellow on the corner posts once the correct shade of yellow is found to John’s satisfaction! This is a project that has taken many weeks in between other pressing needs in the shed and has been thwarted by extremes of weather – either too hot or too wet! And many people have been involved, so thanks to all of them. It has been a job worth doing and certainly makes the place look tidier.

Turf being laid by Ed Tatham in the new gardenAlso making a welcome improvement to the local environment has been Ed Tatham who has been working to create a garden adjacent to the children’s playground and alongside the walking route to the FRT shed. Ed is seen here lying turf which would certainly not be out of place at Wembley.

John Dixon did a final clean up of FR 20’s tender coal space on Wednesday before applying a coat of red oxide. John Davis giving a second coat of primer to FR 20's tender coal spaceA second coat of red oxide was applied on Friday by John Davis, seen here with the paint brush.

Adrian and Howard have again been busy with Caliban, with Adrian tidying up the paintwork between the frames. He has also been doing some work on FR 20, undoing the boiler expansion bracket screws ready for the time when the boiler will be lifted.

Keith has continued to have a frustrating time at Embsay preparing the surface of 5643’s smokebox to receive the regulator box. Keith and Adrian are now due to go to Embsay this Wednesday to continue the work.

Fred with the newly cleaned up vacuum pipework from FR 20Fred made further progress with cleaning up the components removed from FR 20, this time cleaning up and priming the engine’s vacuum pipework. Mike and Paul Newton spent more time on Friday with the delinquent extractor fan in the former FRT RMB before casting another couple of resin plates.

Finally there was a good representation from Preston at Crewe Crematorium on Friday for Dave Manley’s funeral. There were also representatives there from Crewe Heritage Centre where Dave was also a member.

Monday 3rd September 2018

It has been another week of graft although we are yet to see some of the fruits of these efforts.

Keith has spent quite a lot more time over at Embsay in his efforts to achieve a satisfactory seating of the regulator box on the smokebox tubeplate. Some unevenness on the surface of the tubeplate is causing packings to be blown out at only 5 psi. Some Taylor (brass corrugated) sealing rings were ordered on Wednesday which will be used once Keith is happy with his work in the smokebox.

FR 20's cab spectacle plate now removedFR 20’s front spectacle plate was removed on Wednesday with the help of the workshop crane and John Dixon continued the process of removing both the boiler cladding and the hand rails on Friday. Fred cleaned up some of the components that had been removed on his appearance on Friday.

Adrian and Howard continued their work on Caliban and Roger painted the backs of the wheels.

The west side of the mess hut now paintedTim finished painting the west side of the mess hut and it is hoped that the south end and some of the protruding east side can be painted this next week.

John Davis and Paul Newton continued their work on the L&NWR bench seat, which was appreciated at the weekend by the daughter of the gentleman who had originally donated the bench to the RSR’s museum. She now looks forward to seeing the finished restoration when she returns in a couple of months – no pressure, then, chaps!

Mike and Paul Balshaw have been continuing their work on de-mystifying the electrics on the former FRT RMB with the aim of getting the fan and lights to come on at the flick of their respective switches.

Finally, those who have followed our locos around the country in campervans have long understood the necessity of taking along a stock of duct tape and WD40: the duct tape to be applied to things that move, but shouldn’t, and the WD40 to be applied to those items that should move but don’t. It was heartening, therefore, to learn that, when the International Space Station (ISS) sprang a life threatening leak after a collision with some galactic debris this week, the astronaut turned to their own supply of duct tape to seal the leak! Sometimes the simplest of solutions are the best.

Tuesday 28th August 2018

We start this week’s blog with the sad news that FRT member and RSR Board member Dave Manley died last Tuesday morning after a three year fight against cancer. Dave had been a key member of the Ribble team at Preston and could often be found driving the mobile plant to top up coal with the JCB, receive materials with the fork lift or move earth with the dumper truck. He was always helpful to us when there was a need to get things done and he will be very much missed by us all. The funeral will be at Crewe Crematorium on Friday, 7th September at 15.20, with donations to the Macmillan Nurses.

FR 20 being dismantled in the RSR workshop 240818John Dixon removing one of Fr 20's number platesWork continued last week on the job of dismantling FR 20 with John and Tim spending most of their time on the job on both Wednesday and Friday.  Neil came in on Saturday to clean the footplate around the reverser quadrant.

Tim also managed to carry out some paintwork round the mess cabin door on Wednesday but was then thwarted by the weather.

Fred and Roger cleaning up Caliban's wheelsAdrian and Howard have continued their work on Caliban and Fred and Roger appeared on Friday to clean up the insides of the wheels, which had been released from under the frames the previous Wednesday.

There was some considerable disappointment at Embsay on Friday when there were difficulties in raising the required pressure on 5643 and Keith returned there on Saturday and today to try and effect remedial work on the loco. The cause of the problem was a steam leak around the regulator box and this has been removed and brought back to Preston to be machined, hopefully on Wednesday.

Alan in 3 rail heavenAnd finally, the Friendly Engines event on the RSR over the Bank Holiday weekend was augmented by some model railways to keep visitors entertained. The weekend was deemed to be a success with visitor numbers higher than last year on all three days. Alan is seen here happily operating his three rail O gauge train set.


Monday 20th August 2018

There were six continuous days of working last week as members tackled the wide variety of work on hand at the moment.

Keith was back at Embsay last Tuesday with Embsay’s Roger re-assembling 5643 after the successful hydraulic test the previous week. He was then back there on Saturday and again on Sunday with Fred. The result of all this work is that 5643 is now ready for a formal steam test which is planned to take place this next Friday. Well done to all concerned for their efforts!

Alan inspects Cumbria's regulatorAlan and Tim went over to Embsay on Wednesday to examine Cumbria‘s regulator valve which was still passing large amounts of steam when supposedly shut. After much deliberation and wrestling with the valve it was concluded that there was still work to do to improve the seal between the valve faces.

Illingworth sets off from EmbsayAlso at Embsay was Russell Walker, who appeared with daughter Chloe and an Atkinson’s low loader to take Stephen Middleton’s 1916-built Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0ST Illingworth to Preston for attention to a hot right hand driving axle box, and then a booked appearance at the RSR’s Steam Gala at the end of September.

Russell also kindly brought over the regulator valves from both Respite and Shropshire for comparison with Cumbria‘s regulator. After further work by staff at Embsay, and with the help of Shropshire‘s regulator valve, Cumbria was passed fit on Sunday and should be back in traffic at Embsay this next weekend.

Back at Preston, FR 20 was shunted into the workshop on Wednesday and John Dixon made progress on removing the bolts from the chimney. With Mike Rigg and Paul Newton also in attendance there was also further progress on cleaning up FR 20’s tender.

Wheels out!Ade had a very  productive day on Wednesday, jacking Caliban further up in the air to allow both wheelsets to be rolled out from under the frames in readiness for machining of its journals. A key milestone in the project has been achieved so congratulations, Ade!

Keith, John and Matt Gervis were back in again at Preston on Thursday to continue the riveting of Wootton Hall‘s tender frames, but we’ll spare you another photo of rivets this week. They plan to be back again this next Thursday. Mike, Bob (welcome back from the high seas!), Fred and Roger appeared on Friday and there was further progress on cleaning up components and the painting of the exterior of the mess room.

FR 20's dome cover being swung away from the boilerAnd so to Saturday when there was an early start to enable Russell Walker to operate the crane to lift off FR 20’s chimney and dome cover before he set off for the control tower for the day. Alan, John, Tim and Sam spent the rest of the day dismantling and labelling pipework and cab fittings from FR 20 ready for cleaning and storage. John Dixon trims the studs for FR 20's dome coverJohn  is seen here removing excess thread from the dome studs in readiness for it to be lifted off also with the return of Russell at the end of the day.

Howard cleans up one of Claiban's axleboxesWith Howard (seen here cleaning one of Caliban’s axleboxes), David, Alison, Matthew, Derek and Neil (crewing Linda) also on site it was a good turnout of members.

Finally, Alan (driving Linda) and Alison were back on Sunday to round off another busy week. Yes, Sunday marked the first public run of Alison’s Cream Tea Specials, when 19 customers booked to travel on the RSR in the former FRT buffet car and sample Alison’s fare. It was a great success apparently and there are plans afoot for a further event in September.