Monday 9th August 2021

A short update this week.

John Dixon working under FR 20's R/H valance.Further work has taken place on FR 20 with Tim tidying up some of the corrosion and paintwork on top of the tender and John Dixon still finding work to do on the engine’s vacuum pipe which is located under the right hand valance.

John Dixon fabricating a new vacuum pipe support bracketJohn has been fabricating two brackets to retain the vacuum pipe in place and is seen here removing sharp edges that could potentially cause harm to those working underneath the loco.

John Davis drilling holes in the new angles above Fluff's engine compartmentWork has also continued on Fluff with Phil Bell making some adjustments to the cab spectacle plate and John Davis drilling holes in the new angles which support the engine compartment roof.

Keith reports that 5643’s valves have been refitted after some work on them at Bury and that the loco was then sent out on a test run on Friday. We see it here making a highly unusual combination double-heading on Friday with LNER ‘A4’ Union of South Africa!!

Finally for this week, news from Embsay is that the work to improve the performance of Cumbria‘s driver’s side injector has been successful but that there is still some way to go on the fireman’s side injector, which does not want to pick up at lower pressure. Another working party is being convened at Embsay on Wednesday.

Monday 2nd August 2021

It has been a full week. Wednesday saw a good gathering at St. Mary Magdalene’s Church in Ribbleton for a lovely service to remember the life of Jean Dixon, followed by the opportunity to have a more informal chat and  a chance to look at photos at the White Bull near Longridge.

Ade, Alan, Tim and Sam went to Embsay on Thursday to refit Cumbria’s right hand injector clack box, hand brake and new parts for the left hand injector. As ever, you always meet up with the unexpected! Ade tapped out the holes in the backhead of the firebox for the new studs.

Alan fitting new studs for the clack boxAlan then fitted the studs and until then, all was going well…..

Tim came to lift the clack box on to the studs and found that the holes in the clack box weren’t aligned with the studs! There was a pause whilst the old studs were examined and some of them were found to be bent. The only solution to obtaining a good fit was then to open out the holes in the clack box after which Ade is seen here tightening the retaining nuts.Ade tightening the nuts

Fitting the new parts to the left hand injector wasn’t all plan sailing either but was finally accomplished with a bit of oooomph!

That left the re-fitting of the hand brake shaft. Sam watching Ade fit the handbrake linksSam is seen watching Ade under the engine during the process of fitting the links to the shaft.

A steam test for Cumbria is now scheduled for tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Keith headed over to Bury on Thursday to look at 5643’s valves which had been removed for examination following reports of excessive water consumption by the engine. Fortunately the ELR has Dave Reynolds, formerly of the Severn Valley Railway and somewhat of an expert on GWR locos, to render advice and a plan of action has been agreed to complete a repair.

Wootton Hall's sand boxes repaired and paintedBack at Preston we have a photo of two repaired and painted sand boxes for Wootton Hall.

John doing some filingWe were very pleased to welcome back John on Saturday who is seen here filing a new bracket to carry FR 20’s engine vacuum pipe.

FR 20 sports the new headboardThose of you who read the blog a fortnight ago might have spotted a new locomotive headboard with the words “The Furness Railway Trust”. Sponsored by one of our members, this is now at Preston with a view to promoting the FRT and is seen on the front of FR 20.

Finally, we leave you with news that a CGI version of Furness Railway No. 20 has been produced for Train Simulator. The product looks pretty convincing to us, and all credit to them.

Monday 26th

So, it’s only five months to Boxing Day – no we haven’t actually mentioned the ‘C’ word yet, but it’s a sobering thought that time is marching on!

It has been a quieter time for us this week as the hot weather has either dissuaded people from coming to Preston this last week or slowed down those who did turn up. Or they were away on holiday (and see below..).

Tim spent his time cleaning off the muck deposited by the seagulls of Barrow on FR 20 when it was on display. He then turned to removing loose scale from the tender coal space in readiness for a coat of paint.

Neil working on the first works plateNeil appeared on Saturday to paint the inlaid sections of the works plates. These have been taken home so that a full two coats of paint can be applied.

Fred painting the water column in the heat of the sunFred manfully braved the heat on Friday and is seen here adding further paint to the water column.

Keith and the new section of ashpan for Wootton HallKeith has been busy manufacturing a new back lower section for Wootton Hall‘s ashpan.

Following on from last week’s sad news, John Dixon informs us that Jean’s funeral will be held at 2.30 pm on this Wednesday, 28th July, at St. Mary Magdalene Church at Ribbleton, Preston. The committal will take place afterwards at Preston crematorium.

Finally,  back to the promised mention of holidays. Alan has been away in the far South West, and found a giant deck chair to his liking at the Bodmin and Wenford Railway….

Stuck.... not that he knows it yet...

Now, it would be cruel to suggest that “pride comes before a fall”, because actually “falling” was that last thing that poor Alan could do.  When he tried to stand up he quite simply could not.  He was stuck and couldn’t get out of the darned thing….
There is video evidence, and if there is sufficient demand, money may be changing hands and we may post it on here….

Monday 19th July 2021

It is with great sadness that we start this week’s blog with the news that Jean Dixon, wife of John, passed away on Friday afternoon after losing her fight with cancer. Jean was Membership Secretary of the Lakeside Railway Society in the early days and has always since been part of our wider family. We offer our sincere condolences to John, Andrew, Linda and Sam. Funeral arrangements will be published when available.

Last week was the run up to the Festival of Transport at Barrow, which this year was celebrating the 175th anniversary of the Furness Railway and at which at which Furness Railway No. 20 was due to make its first public appearance for three years.

FR 20 departs from Preston on Friday afternoonSimon Reid of Reid Freight was keen that this should be one of his more leisurely moves, as he had arranged for his family to be with him at Barrow over the weekend – rather a busman’s holiday! Simon appeared at Preston after lunch by which time Adrian had shunted FR 20 on to the loading road, which had been helpfully cleared by the Ribble Rail staff. The loco departed at 16.10 for its journey to Barrow and an overnight stopover at a secure location there – thanks to David Stubbins of the FR 175 committee, Wicks Waste Management and the Barrow Transport Group for their help.

Neil, Jim and Andrew, with Tom Jones and Peter van Zeller in the backgroundFR 20 was skilfully reversed to its allotted position behind the Dock Museum at 08.45 on Saturday morning with the sales team of Jim Kay, Andrew Furness and part time assistant Neil Smith turning up to set up the stall nearby the loco and with Peter van Zeller also making the trip down from Ravenglass to join in the fun.

FR 20 in position at the Dock Museum on Saturday morningThere wasn’t a cloud in the sky and everyone agreed that FR20 looked splendid in this historic and picturesque setting nearby the old Barrow graving dock. Certainly sun tan lotion was the order of the day!

Simon Reid gives his lorry a polishWith such a sparkling loco on his rig, Simon was to be seen giving his lorry some TLC of its own!

One of the preserved buses operating the free bus serviceThere was a well organised free bus service operated by preserved vehicles which brought new visitors to the site every 20 minutes throughout the day so, without being overrun, there was a steady flow of people who came to take photographs, chatted to us and bought souvenirs from the stall.

Seeing double!Tom Jones brought his beautiful 5″ gauge working model of FR 20 for it to be displayed alongside the 12″ to the foot version and which received many accolades.

Tim reprises the Iron roadNearby there were also stalls operated by the FR 175 committee, Community Rail Cumbria and the Lakes Line Rail User Group amongst others. There were children’s entertainers and, in the afternoon, Tim took the opportunity to reprise some of the songs from the FR 150 road show The Iron Road.

One of the great things about the day was the opportunity to meet up again outside and also to catch up with the many friends who came to visit throughout the day, most of whom we hadn’t seen since before the first lock down. FR 20 departs with the backdrop of the DDHAll too soon though, 16.00 hrs arrived and it was time to pack up and then wave goodbye to FR 20 as, with a farewell toot on the Reid Freight horn, it left the site by the towering Devonshire Dock Hall of the shipyard, where FR 20’s restoration took place from 1996 to 1998. All in all, a very successful and memorable day at a very well organised event.

We are pleased to be able to report that Ade was once again on hand at Preston on Sunday to shunt FR 20 back into the FRT shed. It only remains to thank everyone who prepared the loco for exhibition, special thanks to Ade for undertaking the shunting, Simon Reid, and also the sales team for their efforts. We leave you with a topical photo taken by Ade last Wednesday which we hope you will like:Yes, it came home!

Monday 12th July 2021

It’s holiday time again so, apologies, we missed a blog last week.

Anyhow, back home now to dry out (from the rain, not the alcohol!?!) and to issue a short reminder to everyone that Furness Railway No. 20 is due to appear on the back of a Reid Freight low loader at the Festival of Transport in Barrow-in-Furness next Saturday, 17th July. Whilst the Festival is an annual event, usually orientated towards vintage cars, it is this year also celebrating the 175th anniversary of the Furness Railway, hence the appearance of FR 20.

Old CoppernobThose of you with good memories will recall that 25 years ago, at the 150th anniversary of the Furness Railway, Furness Railway Number 3, aka Old Coppernob was brought “home”, posing outside Barrow station where it had stood for over 4o years in a glass building after retirement, and visiting the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway (above).

It was also announced at that same event that the Heritage Lottery Fund and the PRISM Fund of the Science Museum had both made grants to enable FR 20 to be restored to its original engine and tender configuration from the incomplete remains of a Barrow Iron & Steel Works tank locomotive.

It therefore seems doubly appropriate that FR 20 should return to Barrow this year, if only for a day, as part of the 175 celebrations.

Festival posterFR 20 will be exhibited at the Dock Museum in Barrow and the FRT will have a stall there to sell souvenirs and to explain the work of the Furness Railway Trust. Volunteers to assist would be most welcome. Please contact Tim Owen so that arrangements can be made.

Tuesday 29th June 2021

The overhaul of Furness Railway No. 20 took a surprising new turn when, last Thursday, it was suggested that the locomotive should be made available for some filming for an edition of BBC’s Antiques Road Trip, to take place yesterday – hence the blog is a little late this week.

Matthew at work moving FR 20 wih a pinch barAt that stage, the fitting of the engine’s vacuum pipe had not been resolved. Last Wednesday, Matthew was given the task of moving the locomotive forward with a pinch bar to see whether the coupling rod would clear the latest position of the pipe. Unsurprisingly, others were also called on to assist before a full revolution of the wheels was achieved. And always it is wise to remember that it is best to check that all chocks have been removed to avoid deflating the confidence of the guy working the pinch bar!?!

Will it fitJohn Dixon returned on Friday and Saturday to continue his quest to get the various pieces of pipe to fit, cursing the constrained space below the valance. Go on- FIT!!!!Eventually we all heard John exclaim loudly, “The gods are with us – the bxxxxxd fits!!” (Was that really our John?) Needless to say, relief all round.

Alan puzzling over the injector steam valve handlesAlan has been busy with the assistance of Sam fitting the remaining pipework and fittings and working out how best to modify the existing handles and spindles to control the new injector steam valves from the cab.

The beforeTim also made an appearance on Saturday to try and complete the lining of the cab sides and valances in time for the filming. The complex pattern of masking tape on one of the cab sides can be seen last thing Saturday evening and then the reveal on Monday morning before the loco was pulled out of the shed.The reveal

FR 20 with GER No. 5FR 20 was then pulled out of the shed into the outside world for the first time in many months alongside the FRT’s Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5.

FR 20 with CourageousThe programme’s director then asked for FR 20 to be positioned on the centre road opposite the Riverside platform. Whether or not you will see FR 20 on the programme is debateable as most of the filming featured RSR’s Bagnall 0-6-0 Courageous hauling a three coach train with Ade on the regulator.

Ade testing the Cumbria's handbrake nut on the shaftThere has also been some work on Cumbria‘s components this week. Ade is seen testing the handbrake nut on the shaft. The general opinion was that there is relatively little wear on the screw, however, uneven wear was found on the lugs on the handbrake nut which could be the cause of the problems experienced with the handbrake.

Monday 21st June 2021

It’s Mid-summer’s Day already – where has the time gone?

Work on Furness Railway No. 20 continues to progress with another pipe wrestling session taking place last Wednesday in an effort to complete the engine’s vacuum pipe system. The was much discussion about elbows and offsets with the conclusion that we had one elbow too many and an ‘S’ bend in the main pipe too few!

John Dixon tests the fit of the new pattress for FR 20John Dixon arrived to see whether his homework, a new wooden pattress for one of FR 20’s numberplates, would pass the test – the previous pattress had succumbed to rot on the lower side. The result looked pretty good to us!

The front end of FR 20 bright and shinyThe painting of the front of the engine has now been completed and Ron and Tim polished and fitted the brass letters and numbers on to the buffer beam.

John Davis and Phil Bell loading Fluff's fuel tank into the cabThe Fluff team reached the stage where they needed to refit the fuel tank and John Davis and Phil are seen here loading it into the cab.

Most of the brake gear has now been fitted on to Wootton Hall‘s tender with just a few items still in production in the machine shop.

Alan, Ade and Tim headed over to Embsay on Friday to work on Cumbria‘s injectors which had been giving trouble. As previously described, a water leak into the dry steam pipe to the fireman’s side injector had been identified and it was decided to remove the associated clack box so that the pipe could be examined with an endoscope. The clack box had not been removed from the backhead of the firebox since it was fitted at the last overhaul and it proved resistant to most forms of persuasion to remove it. It was nearly three hours later that the nuts had been removed either through heat or had snapped off leaving all six studs requiring replacement. Even when the nuts had been removed, the clack box stubbornly refused  to move until attacked with wedges driven between it and the backhead. Lunch was then taken around 3pm. After blanking off the delivery pipe on the backhead, the boiler was then topped up to reveal small traces of water leaking between the outside of the dry pipe and the backhead. This was the answer to the problem that we had been hoping for, as no one fancied having to renew a dry pipe. Once a set of tube expanders had been applied the water leak stopped. We now need six new studs and to clean up the surface of the clack box where it fits on to the backhead before refitting.

There wasn’t time to fit the new set of cones that had been purchased for the fireman’s side injector, but it was possible to extract the handbrake shaft through the cab roof so that it could be taken back to Preston for attention. By then it was 6.30 and time to wrap up and go home. Needless to say, volunteers to assist for the next visit to Embsay will be very much welcomed!

Tuesday 15th June 2021

Apologies – we are a day late this week! Yes, it has been necessary to put in an extra day at Preston with Furness Railway No. 20 this week so the blog deadline was missed. The reason for cracking on with the finishing stages of the overhaul of FR 20 is that there are plans afoot for it to appear at the Barrow Festival of Transport on Saturday, 17th July, as part of the Furness 175 celebrations.

John Dixon, Alan, Ron and Ade wrestle with FR 20's vacuum pipeLast Wednesday saw some progress on re-fitting the engine’s vacuum pipe which, for some reason, is proving to be a challenge. John Dixon, Alan, Ron and Ade are seen here wrestling with the recalcitrant pipework.

FR 20 with partly painted cab sidesThe cab sides have now received coats of primer and undercoat as part of the push to complete the paintwork.

Keith grinding Wootton Hall's repaired tender pipeworkWork has also continued on Wootton Hall‘s tender where Fred has been cleaning up the  vacuum pipework and Keith has been welding up and grinding off any suspicious areas of metalwork.

Fred taking a well earned break - where's my Sopwith Camel gone?Fred is seen here taking a well earned break – he will be glad to know that the next box of cup wire brushes has arrived!

Sam cleaning Wootton Hall's tender brake linkageSam was kept busy on Friday cleaning and piecing together the tender brake linkage.

Sam and Jack Davenport (no not THAT Jack Davenport) fitting Wootton Hall's tender brake linkageSam was so enthused by the task that he appeared again on Saturday to fit the linkage with a helping hand from RSR’s new recruit, Jack Davenport.

Elsewhere the Fluff gang has been making good progress and Ade is awaiting a suitable opportunity to split Caliban‘s smokebox from its boiler.

Monday 7th June 2021

We are back after a short holiday break – yes, the dramatic improvement in the weather was very timely, thanks.

However, the sunshine has not prevented the Trust’ merry gang from working hard in the FRT shed and, as previewed in recent blogs, there was a most notable move forward  through the re-wheeling of Wootton Hall‘s tender chassis. Final set of wheels ready to go under Wootton Hall's tender chassisOn Wednesday, 26th May, the final wheelset had been fitted with its axleboxes and was being readied to be moved under the chasis.

Getting ready to lower the chassisOn Saturday, 29th, Keith,  Neil and Sam, with assistance from the massed ranks of the RSR workshop volunteers to ensure each wheel was perfectly located, lowered the chassis on to the wheels. Later that day the vacuum reservoir was fitted, followed by all the refurbished springs and finally the spring hangers.

The rolling chassisBy the following Wednesday, the cotter pins had been made and added to the hangers, and a rolling chassis had been achieved.

Tim and Ron Crowe fitting the decorative brass work on FR 20There has also been further progress with FR 20. On Wednesday, 26th May, the decorative brass covers on the firebox were fitted by Tim, John Dixon and (new volunteer) Ron Crowe.The brasswork fitted

With the injector steam pipes then fitted into position, it was possible to fit the cab sides and, after somewhat of a battle, the sand boxes. It will now be possible to start the painting process on the cab sides and valances as well as complete the rest of the pipework and fittings.

We have received the positive news that 5643 has been working again on the East Lancs Railway, and also the rather more negative news that the steam pipe from the dome to the driver’s injector steam valve on Cumbria has developed a leak which admits unwanted water to the injector causing it to fail. There is also an issue with the fireman’s side injector to be resolved. Heads are being scratched and an initial plan has been formed.

Monday 24th May 2021

Alan marking one of the flanges for soldering to the injector steam pipeA few pictures this week of progress in fitting the new injector steam valves on Furness Railway No. 20. The first, taken last Wednesday, shows Alan marking up one of the new flanges that is being fitted to the left hand steam pipe.

The right hand steam pipe lined up to the new jointThe right hand steam pipe can be seen lined up nicely with the valve after a bit of tweaking.

Sam removing the left hand steam valveIt was left to Sam to remove the pipes and the new valves so that the cladding sheets could be fitted.

The left hand firebox cladding sheet fittedBoth cladding sheets were duly fitted on Friday by Roger, John Dixon and Tim. The sheets are a ‘nib fit’, so it took some time to get them exactly in the right location and screwed down without damage to the new paintwork.

The next stage will be to silver solder the flange joints and to fit the brasswork around both ends of the cladding sheets. Then it will be possible to fit the cab sides and open up plenty more work including the finishing paintwork on the cab sides and valances.

Wootton Hall's tender chassis jacked up ready to receive the wheelsetsWe are pleased to be able to report that Keith was happy with the lubrication trials on the first two of Wootton Hall‘s tender axleboxes. The chassis is now being raised so that the wheelsets can be rolled into position underneath.

Unfortunately, the holidays mean that there won’t be a blog next week.