Monday 6th November 2017

We’re sad to start this week’s blog with the news that Ron Flanagan, long term friend and business partner of Alan Middleton for over 35 years, died in hospital last Tuesday. Ron was well known to many of our members and was certainly a larger-than-life character who worked at Courtaulds at Preston with Alan. They set up the Victoria Engineering partnership together in 1981, which produced many items for the FRT at very favourable rates over the years. Ron Flanagan at Longridge Folk ClubRon was also a local folk legend, having spent his earlier years playing with the late Brian Dewhurst (who coincidentally died the Wednesday before) in the band ‘Horden Raikes’ and, in more recent years, running Longridge Folk Club – he is seen playing there in June 2015 when our own Live Steam were the invited guests. There will be a service at St Paul’s Church, Berry Lane, Longridge, at 12.00 on Tuesday, 14th November followed by committal at Preston Crematorium. Our thoughts and condolences go to Ron’s wife, Barbara, daughter Jennifer and their family.

Stop press: we have just received the further sad news in the passing of Graham Twidale today (Monday) at 4 pm. Graham was a former LRS driver on the L&HR and then went on to become a senior tram driver at Blackpool and to write a number of books on trams. Again, our condolences go to Graham’s family.

Last Tuesday saw the usual suspects of John Dixon, Fred, Tim and Alan meet at Junction 36 before heading off to Shildon for a dirty day out with FR 20. They were met there by local member, Brian Goodfellow, and soon set about preparing FR 20 for its appointment with the boiler surveyor last Friday.

Tim looking as if he has been down a coal mineTim once again found himself to be the only one professing to be able to crawl through the firehole door and remove the grate. Water is discharged from the boiler as Fred cleans out the tubesFred blew out the tubes and he and Tim then vied for the ‘dirtiest looking member of the day’ competition by cleaning out the smokebox and firebox respectively.

John tries out the new power washer on the ashpanThe new power washer was tried out by cleaning the ashpan before being used to wash out the boiler. Unfortunately, once it had run out of petrol and been topped up again, it developed a petrol leak and refused to start up again – so back to Preston for further technical examination! However, the day was successful and our boiler surveyor was able to give the thumbs up when he undertook the cold examination on Friday. There will be a further meeting at Junction 36 on Thursday morning in order to reassemble FR 20 at Shildon in readiness for its steam test on Friday. All being well FR 20 will be in operation at Locomotion on Saturday and Sunday in connection with a Lego event. Alan, Alison and Tim are planning to accompany these last planned steamings for the loco in 2017.

Back at Preston, the RMB is due to be ferried around to the RSR’s running shed any time now ready for commissioning back into service. John Dixon, John Davis, Mike and Paul all continued with minor finishing jobs on the vehicle, including painting some of the heater covers and varnishing wood work.

Tim cleaned the roof of the RSR’s TPO vehicle on Wednesday before applying primer paint to any bare metal. Fred and Roger then cleaned the corridor ends on Friday in readiness for filling and sanding. David has made a start on removing the graphics from one of the sides. so that sanding and filling can commence there as well.

Adrian made some more progress on Caliban, painting the rods and Keith has been working on the new metal for Wootton Hall’s tender frames, cutting and then drilling holes where required.

Finally, Keith has also wired up the electrics for the new mess room and John Dixon hopes to make a start with the plumbing once he has finished his varnishing work in the RMB.

Tuesday 31st October 2017

We’ve been back into full swing this week with plenty of activity to report.

Mike in the RMB fuse boxThere has been more snagging work taking place on the RMB, with John Dixon tidying up the varnish where he has repaired the panelling, Mike has been doing some more testing of the electrics (seen here) and John Davis has been cleaning up the aluminium panelling. cleaned and polished light for the RMB servery areaA newly polished ceiling light is also seen here ready for fitting. Tim and Fred have been back on the roof of the TPO vehicle, which has had a through clean up and just needs a final sweep before applying filler and primer where necessary. Howard has finished removing the yellow lining tape on the sides.

Ade has continued some reassembly of Caliban, with the sand boxes being lifted back into position. Howard has started to fabricate some new sand box covers.

Steel plate from BrazilKeith took delivery of some new steel plate (from Brazil, apparently) and started cutting it in readiness to be stitched on to the front of Wootton Hall‘s tender chassis.

Vacuum retaining valve for Wootton Hall

A second hand vacuum retaining valve has been obtained for Wotton Hall and kindly sponsored by one of our members.

Unmachined hydrostatic lubricator warming cocks for Wootton HallTwo un-machined hydrostatic lubricator warming cocks for the Hall have also been purchased at £60 each and sponsors for these are also sought.

The new high pressure power washer is assembledQuite some time was spent last Wednesday assembling the new petrol powered high pressure washer that was donated recently. This was in readiness for the visit tomorrow to Shildon for the preparation of FR 20 for its boiler survey on Friday. Despite actually reading the manual for once (!!) and applying the necessary oil and petrol, the engine refused to start. Fortunately, Ribble Rail’s Jason Finnerty had a look at it and detected that there was no flow of fuel to the engine – it appears that the fuel filter was solid. Once a hole had been drilled in the filter, the engine worked fine!

The mess room in the process of touching downSaturday saw the long awaited move of the recently acquired mess room into its new resting place by the shed. Keith had laid out some supporting blocks, which John then deemed to be perfectly aligned(!), and the big Hi-ab lorry from JN Civils next door easily managed the job. The mess room in its new homeJust the electrics and the drain to sort out now. And maybe now we see a need to keep it grey, but paint the corner posts yellow?!

So which Alan is the spook?The weekend also saw the annual spooky trains at the Ribble Steam Railway, who created their own spook called Alan. The two Alans are seen here side by side – guess which is the spook!

Spook Live Steam at the Engine InnLive Steam reunited after a summer’s absence from the music stage to perform at the Engine Inn at Cark – see another spooky photo or two! Tim and Alan perform the Rawtenstall Annual FairEveryone seemed to enjoy themselves and the band may well be back there for New Year’s Eve.


Tuesday 24th October 2017

It has been a little quieter at Preston with Alan, Tim, Ade and Keith all absent for various reasons.

John Dixon fitting door seals on the RMBJohn Dixon has finished the door frame beadings on the RMB and has been installing new rubber sealing strips at the bottom of the door frames, which should reduce draughts within the coach. John Davis has been undertaking more cleaning within the coach, Mike has been picking out lettering on battery and gas boxes beneath the frames and Paul has been fettling the door locks on the cupboards.Paul fitting cupboard door locks on the RMN

Howard and David have continued to remove the yellow stripes on the RSR’s TPO vehicle. Roger and Fred on the magic carpetFred and Roger spent Friday on the ‘magic carpet’ cleaning and de-rusting the north side of its roof.

Wednesday’s operations were somewhat disrupted by a fire warden’s course and those present were able to practice their fire-fighting skills with a fire extinguisher.

The main event of the week has been in Scotland at the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway where 5643 was used for an all day photo charter on Friday followed by a Fish & Chip Special that evening, which had been sold out. It then went on to star at the B&KR’s Steam Gala where it performed on Saturday and Sunday alongside the home loco fleet.

SRPS Facebook photoThere is a photo here from the B&KR’s Facebook site showing 5643 approaching Birkhill with a service train the previous weekend. 5643 leaving Bo'ness with 'teak' stock on Saturday, 21st October 2017Alan has been working all hours to brief crews and to assist in the preparation of the loco and Alison has made a very useful contribution to the Trust’s coffers through the operation of the sales stand in the buffet car. 5643 at Manuel on the B&KR on Saturday 21st October 2017Tim visited on Saturday to be followed by Keith on Sunday. Everyone at the B&KR appeared to be  impressed by 5643’s performance and seemed to enjoy having its presence there over the two weekends.

Looking forward, Live Steam are performing at the Engine Inn at Cark next Saturday evening and there will of course be spooky trains at the RSR next weekend. Also, a Hi-ab lorry has been booked to move the mess room at Preston on Saturday. The following Tuesday will see a working party at Locomotion, Shildon, as members assemble for a dirty day out as they prepare FR 20 for its 14 month boiler examination.

Monday 16th October 2017

It has been another full week of activity to keep us busy.

The Preston Branch meeting on Tuesday turned out to be an unfortunate catalogue of cancellations. Ade’s train from the Pleasure Beach was cancelled so he had to find an alternative means of getting to the meeting. Then it was found that the landlord of The Ale Emporium had changed and the usual room had been hired out to a ladies’ dance group(!). The evening then became an opportunity for members to have a beer or two whilst having an enjoyable discussion. Alan’s new ‘phone became the source of the evening’s photos, the main feature being the X-Ray of Alison’s knee (see last week’s blog) and bruised legs! Others continued to chat, with a break out party to the Vic, whilst Tim had to hurry home after discovering that the later Furness Line train had been cancelled as well…!

There was a good turn out at Preston on Wednesday. John Davis and Mike with the water boiler in the RMBJohn Dixon continued with his woodwork on the RMB door beading, whilst Mike and John Davis cleaned the servery area and re-fitted the water boiler. Fred cleaning the TPO roofTim spent the day cleaning the south side of the TPO vehicle roof, which was finished on Friday with the assistance of Fred. Paul has been vacuuming the seats, which now look much better after his attention. Only another 200 feet of tape to go!Howard continued the challenge of removing the yellow tape from the sides of the TPO and on Saturday Howard and David between them managed to finish removing both yellow stripes from the north side of the TPO – as Howard said, parking restrictions have now been removed!

Which way does it go tother?Ade was busy re-assembling the reverser gear on Caliban after some deliberation with Alan as to how it fitted together.It fits now!

Sam at work cleaning stud threadsMeanwhile Sam spent a considerable time cleaning up the threads of the studs for Caliban‘s valve covers.

Keith removing the rivetsJohn H is seen here giving Keith a hand, who was removing old rivets from the Hall’s tender frames. JH at work on a GWR loco!We had to remind John H that he had been caught red handed working on a GWR loco! John Stewart welding Wootton Hall's tender framesJohn Stewart came in on Saturday to do some welding on the frames, seen here, and the buffer beam was then temporarily fitted on to the frames.The new buffer beam temporarily Wootton Hall's tender frames

5643 at Bo'ness waiting to take the 14.10 train to ManuelAs you will recall, 5643 was due to be transported up to the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway on Monday, but when Alan and Alison arrived there on Thursday afternoon it was nowhere to be seen. It finally arrived on Thursday evening to be offloaded on Friday morning. The causes of the delay were driver sickness, a fault with the trailer, flooding on the A65 on Wednesday and a crane fire near Kendal on the M6 on Thursday morning, which caused the northbound carriageway to the closed.

5643 being prepared at Bo'ness on SaturdayHowever, having said all that, Alan reports that 5643 ran well on Saturday and Sunday on the B&KR’s service train with barely a slip on that bank past Birkhill. It seems that some of the people attending the photo charter next Friday were trying out South Wales headcode targets (eg Abercynon to Merthyr Tydfil) on the loco to make sure that they would fit. Alison set up a souvenir sales stand in the buffet car as well as taking some photos for us to enjoy.5643 ready for the right away on Saturday morning.

Moving on, no sooner have we finished completing the 14 month boiler strip down and examination on 5643 than it is the turn of Furness Railway No. 20 to undergo the same process. A working party at Locomotion, Shildon, has been scheduled for Tuesday, 31st October with a cold examination by the boiler surveyor booked for Friday, 3rd November. A formal steam test has been provisionally booked for Friday, 10th November, in advance of two further booked steamings on the 11th and 12th in connection with a Lego event.

Monday 9th October 2017

The principal task last week was the completion of the work required to put 5643 into an operable condition after its firebox work and subsequent cold examination by the boiler surveyor.

Old and new blower rings for 5643A working party took place at Embsay on Wednesday with Keith, John Dixon and John Davis travelling across with the newly machined blower ring, refractory concrete and formers for the brick arch together with a variety of tools. The new and old blower rings are pictured above. Alan had also travelled down and the gang were successful in installing the new blower ring before 5643 was drawn out of the shed to allow Alan to put in a warming fire. Alan and John Dixon returned to Embsay on Thursday to fire up the loco for its scheduled steam test at 14.30 which it duly passed.

There was another gathering at Embsay when the new brick arch was cast and Fred and Keith cleaned up the exterior of 5643, a task which Keith continued on Sunday. 5643 is due to be transported to Bo’ness today (Monday) and Alan is planning to drive up to Scotland on Thursday with a test steaming at Bo’ness planned for Friday. The loco is then planned to be in normal service on Saturday and Sunday, then the following Friday (Photo Charter and evening Fish & Chip Special), and Saturday and Sunday for the Gala.

The process of getting 5643 through its annual boiler survey and steam test, together with the associated works, in time for its trip to Scotland, devoured much time and effort from the Trust’s volunteers and also that of Steve Shearing who machined the new blower ring. Hearty thanks go to all those involved and also to our boiler surveyor for arranging his diary to fit into our schedule.

Howard at work with scraper on the TPOAs promised in last week’s blog, the RMB has moved out of the heated part of the shed with its place being taken by the RSR’s Post Office Sorting Vehicle No. 80377. Tim and David took plenty of measurements and photographs before the graphics are removed to allow painting to take place. Tim then started to remove loose paintwork on the roof whilst, on Saturday, David and Howard commenced the task of removing the two 2″ wide yellow lines which had been taped on to the bodywork. It had been thought that a heat gun would assist in the removal of the tape, but the fact that there are two layers of tape defeated these efforts and so it was necessary to resort to scrapers to make progress.

With Mike away it was left to Paul and John Davis to continue the remaining jobs on the RMB on Friday including a clean up of the old water boiler and more shining of the brass work. Ade at workAdrian made further progress with painting up Caliban‘s components, seen here with one of the pins. There is also a view of a sparkling brake beam.Caliban's sparkling brake beam

Alan and Alison were at Locomotion, Shildon over the weekend for two more steamings of FR 20. Unfortunately, Alison’s knee, which she injured in a fall at Preston last weekend whilst preparing for the Folk Evening, flared up on the Saturday resulting in an unexpected trip to both Bishop Auckland and Darlington hospitals before doctors were able to declare that the problem was severe bruising, which would require Alison to rest. And there lies the problem, for it is a well known fact that Alison doesn’t do ‘resting’! We all wish her well for a speedy recovery.

FR 20’s boiler certificate will expire before its next planned steamings on the 11th and 12th November, so it will be necessary to prepare the locomotive for a cold examination by the boiler surveyor. It is provisionally planned that a working party will visit Shildon on Tuesday, 31st October, depending on the availability of our usual loyal volunteers.

Finally, it is that time of year again when we start the winter season of Preston branch meetings. The first will take place tomorrow, Tuesday 10th October, at 8 pm at The Ale Emporium, Fylde Road, Preston when, no doubt, more steamy videos will be shown.

With the RMB almost ready to be passed over for operation on the Ribble Steam Railway, we leave you with a ‘blast from the past’ photo of Carriage and Wagon stalwarts David Rimmer and John Dixon behind the counter on a visit to Cowlairs, Glasgow, to inspect the new acquisition on Saturday, 15th January 1982. Can it really be 35 years since it was purchased?!Mine's a pint!

Monday 2nd October 2017

Yet another busy week has passed by – well we don’t really want too many quiet times, but the occasional rest would be useful…!

5643 passed its cold inspection with the boiler surveyor on  Thursday, and Keith and George were planning to head over to Embsay yesterday (Sunday) to refit the safety valves, washout plugs and mudhole doors. Steve Shearing machines the new blower ring for 5643Meanwhile, Steve Shearing has been spending many hours in the workshop at Preston machining the new blower ring and elbow in readiness for fitting before the steam test. This has been quite a challenge to accomplish in time and it is hoped that it will be ready to fit on Wednesday before the fire is lit! A steam test has been scheduled for Thursday afternoon after which a new brick arch will have to be fitted before the loco leaves Embsay on Monday morning for its visit to the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway over the following two weekends.

The RMB has been spending its last week in the heated part of the shed as a move into the unheated part has been arranged for today, Monday. The TPO coach waiting a move into the FRT shedIts place will be taken by the RSR’s Post Office Sorting vehicle No. 80377 which was recently purchased from the Kirklees Light Railway and is planned to be used as an exhibit in the museum. Built in 1972, the vehicle was withdrawn from service in 2004. Whilst, on the surface, it does not appear to be in too bad a condition, there will be plenty of tidying up to do on the bodywork before it can be painted.

The various snagging jobs on the RMB were the subject of further work this week, and here we have to confess that a previous blog report that John Dixon had nearly finished replacing the panelling and beading around the doors was proven to be incorrect. John was keen to point out that such jobs take rather longer than people think and the blog team profusely apologises for belittling the task!

Mike making the RMB light upA shore electrical supply was  connected to the RMB so that the lights could be tested. Although many of them were not working initially, this was mainly because of dirty contacts. By the time that Mike Rigg had finished his work only one light bulb actually had to be changed. John Davis cleaning the metalwork in the RMBJohn Davis (seen here) and Paul carried on the other jobs inside the RMB including polishing the brasswork, which had obviously not seen a cleaning rag for many a year.

Adrian continued his work with a paintbrush on Caliban, giving a coat of black to the reverser quadrant whilst John H and Alan attended to other important jobs such as making a decision on the main colour scheme for the loco. The trouble with having so many choices is that you can't make up your mind!At Adrian’s request Tim had brought in a pile of colour charts as Ade has hopes of painting the wheels in the not too distant future. Having brought the number of shades of blue down to a choice of three, Alan and John finally opted to be contrary by choosing ‘Pacific Blue’ for a 0-4-0 saddle tank loco!

Wootton Hall‘s tender frames are now perched on a custom built steel stand constructed by Keith from some scrap RSJs which had been acquired. Roger and Fred turned up very late on Friday having been stuck on the M6 for a couple of hours north of Preston. Roger put a coat of grey undercoat on Wootton Hall‘s brake beams whilst Fred went cleaning up the former Foxfield water column.

The RSR’s Autumn Diesel Gala was successful and was augmented by the addition of a visiting DRS Class 37, which came down from Kingmoor at Carlisle. There was also some evening running in conjunction with a Folk Evening in the cafe which Alison had organised to raise funds for the new children’s playground, with music being provided by Fleetwood Folk Club. The whole event turned out to be a great success, so well done to Alison, to all those who provided the music, the front of house staff and, of course, the diesel gang who ran the trains. There is already talk of another similar event next year.

Last Thursday afternoon Tim went across to Locomotion at Shildon on behalf of the FRT to attend a Stakeholder Reception to mark the takeover of Locomotion by the Science Museum Group (SMG). The museum had previously been run as a partnership between Durham County Council and the National Railway Museum. It was announced that Durham County Council is to fund the conservation of the Grade 1 listed coal drops, which have been fenced off because of a deterioration in their condition. Ian Blatchford, Director of the SMG, then confirmed that the SMG is going to spend £1.6m on conserving the historic buildings at the Hackworth end of the site and that he had aspirations to spend more money on telling the story of Shildon’s contribution to the early days of railway operation. It was all very uplifting!

Next weekend sees Alan and Alison also head once again over the Pennines to Locomotion at Shildon for a couple more FR 20 steamings in connection with the Shildon Model Railway Exhibition.

Monday 25th September 2017

This last week brought the sad death of David Shepherd CBE. David was a man of passion, who made his name by bringing to life on canvas wild animals (particularly elephants) aeroplanes and steam locomotives. He befriended us many years ago through member Derek Milby and, as a result of this, famously gave a lecture at the Coronation Hall in Ulverston. His double-decker sales bus appeared in the Lakes on more than one occasion and he delighted in joining us for a musical evening on Roger Mallinson’s steam launch Shamrock on Windermere. We also made several exchange visits down to the East Somerset railway at Cranmore where some renowned and very liquid folk evenings were held in the village hall. An avowed conservationist of both wildlife and steam locomotives, the world will be very much the poorer for David’s passing.

Last Tuesday evening saw a gathering at the Ashton Bowling Club for the Ribble Steam Railway AGM at which Tim, Alison and fellow FRT member David Starkie were elected as directors of the RSR. Tim then presented a photo presentation entitled “The Activities of the Furness Railway Trust”, which was followed by some slides of Steamport at Southport. An evening of some nostalgia for all!

John D fixing a strap to the fire extinguisher holderWe were delighted to welcome new member John Davis at Preston on Wednesday – he must have enjoyed it as he turned up again with a new set of overalls on Friday. Mine's a pint!John is seen here by the RMB bar with Mike Rigg, who did the induction.

John attending to yet more panelling adjacent to a doorIt was again a time of finishing all the remaining snagging jobs in the RMB with John Dixon still working on restoring some of the wooden panelling by the doors, Paul replacing the servery area cupboard shelves, Mike starting to replace the ceiling fans and John Davis assisting with some of the other fittings.Paul attending to the archway adjacent to the buffet

Beware: Ade brandishing a paint brushThere was further work on Caliban, with Alan turning his attentions to the cab and Ade wielding a paintbrush on the running board.

Bob appeared on Friday and spent some time taking a rubbing of the numbers stamped on Wootton Hall‘s tender frames which had been found after the shot blasting had taken place. The exact number of the tender has always been a mystery and Bob will be making contact with a gentleman in Swindon who has been keeping tabs on this particular vehicle with a view to identifying it. Keith was also present to make further progress on the loco.

Alan at Shildon's Steam Punk eventAlan and Alison went across to Locomotion at Shildon yet again, it being the annual Steam Punk weekend at which people delight in dressing up in all sorts of incredible garb. Steam Punk is defined as being retro-futuristic and FR 20 probably fits quite neatly into the scene, although we are not sure how you should view the two coach Pacer passing in the background!

As many of you will be aware, the Trust’s GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643 is currently out of service for its 14 month boiler examination. In preparation for this, the brick arch has been removed and Andy Booth has put in twenty new patch screws. Keith and George were going over to Embsay yesterday, Sunday, to remove the remaining plugs and mudhole doors ready for a cold examination by the boiler surveyor, which we hope will take place this week. It is planned to fit the new blower ring, which is currently being machined by Steve Shearing at Preston, next weekend and then hold a formal steam test the following week. So, fingers crossed!

Finally, it is reported by the latest Cumbrian Railways Association newsletter that the former Vickers Gun Range signal box, which was gifted to the Wensleydale Railway Association by the FRT a few years ago, will be moved from Scruton to Leyburn where it will be used to control the movement of trains following the planned installation of a passing loop there. As many of you will be aware, the signal box was originally preserved by FRT member Jon Wilkinson, who himself gifted the signal box to the FRT.

Monday 18th September 2017

Working parties at Preston last week were rather more thinly attended, but still the work went on.

John has now nearly finished fitting trimmings around the doors of the RMB.Mike vacuuming the buffet shelvesMike has been busy cleaning the shelves behind the counter.

Paul painting one of the heater guardsPaul painted the remaining radiator guards (one of them new) which were then fitted along with the remaining tables. Mike then turned his attentions to vacuuming the seats.

Work continued on Caliban and Fred did more cleaning up of the former Foxfield water column. Fred working on the water columnKeith has been cutting spare metal to make new support stands for Wootton Hall‘s tender frames.

Alan, Tim and Alison went over to Shildon last Friday for Locomotion’s Autumn Steam Gala which was well attended by the public. BR Class 2
2-6-0 No. 78018, the star of British Transport Films’ classic “Snowdrift at Bleath Gill”, was back on former home ground and on show in light steam along with Flying Scotsman, which arrived on Friday evening having hauled an excursion form London Victoria to York. It was a bit of a surprise to find long standing FRT member Jon Wilkinson in the cab, having volunteered to join the locomotive’s support crew during its operation at the West Somerset Railway earlier in the week.

Saturday saw FR 20 work the demonstration line service until 2.15 pm after which there was time to top up with water and for Flying Scotsman to back on to the other end of the two brake van train. The giant 4-6-2 and rather smaller 0-4-0 then hauled the demonstration train up and down from 3 pm until 5.45.

It was then time to head off to the local hostelry for food, accompanied by the four strong Flying Scotsman support crew before retiring for an early night. Alan, Alison and Tim were, not surprisingly, pretty tired after the day’s activities.

Peter and Dickon joined the fray on Sunday morning, helping to clean FR 20 after the night’s rain and the loco once again operated the demonstration line service until 1 pm and then topping and tailing with Flying Scotsman from 2 pm until close of play. Heavy rain showers brought the unusual sight of the FR 20 crew soldiering on in the rain under the conveniently borrowed NRM umbrellas – it looked like something from a Roland Emmett sketch. The relationship formed with the FS crew the previous evening enabled Alan and Tim to enjoy some cab swapping later on Sunday, ending a most enjoyable weekend during which hundreds of passengers were carried.

Alan and Alison are heading off to Shildon again next weekend for Locomotion’s now very popular annual Steampunk event.

We leave you this week with a photo unashamedly shared from the Locomotion Facebook page showing a little old Furness Engine in the distance, formerly of a school playground in Barrow, hauling the mighty Flying Scotsman and train under a dramatic rainbow. Yes, dreams really can come true!Somewhere under the rainbow

Monday 11th September 2017

Any planning of work for last Wednesday’s working party at Preston went out of the window when we learnt that morning that it was proposed to have a shunt of vehicles in the shed.

It had previously been agreed that Caliban‘s frames would be moved on to road two and that the newly shot blasted and painted tender frames for Wootton Hall would be moved behind the RMB buffet coach on road three. And so it all came about along with the movement of Peckett 0-4-0ST John Blenkinsop into the paint shop from road two, to be replaced by Hunslet 0-6-0ST Kingsley.

John preparing Caliban's axleboxesNeedless to say, work had to start quickly on preparing Caliban‘s frames, including oiling the axleboxes which John is seen here undertaking along with a photo of it in its new position. Caliban's frames in their new positionThe RMB out in the open for the first time since repaintThis was a chance to photograph the repainted buffet car out in the open and also the Class 47 cab which Dave and Jo have been preparing for the museum. The Class 47 cab out for some fresh air during the shuntIt was also possible to photograph Wootton Hall without the RMB in front of it.Wootton Hall exposed

The tender frames are seen here in their new position in the shed.The tender frames inside for the first time in over fifty years

Well done to Ribble Rail’s Phil and Mike for getting the shunt carried out in a day.

Friday was then spent removing the accommodation bogies from under the tender frames, giving the shed floor a good clean and setting up a display of FRT work and sales tables before the sheds doors were opened officially to the public for the first time for the Heritage Open Days on Saturday and Sunday.

The shed open to the publicThere was a constant flow of visitors to the shed, with a mix of enthusiasts attending the RSR’s Autumn Steam Gala and other members of the public following the Heritage Open Days trail around Preston. Around three hundred people visited the shed and Alison recruited four new members as well as making many sales.

2890 ready to depart with its first train after restorationThe Saturday was also a milestone event for the restoration of Andy Booth’s converted Hunslet ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0 No. 2890, which made its passenger hauling debut at Preston on the 14.45 train. 2890 double heading on SundayConsidering that the boiler had only been placed in the frames in the last ten days, this was quite an achievement and a great birthday present for its owner.

Next week sees Alan, Alison and Tim heading over to Shildon for Locomotion’s Autumn Steam Gala where Furness Railway No. 20 is due to be top and tailing the demonstration line train with some whippersnapper LNER 4-6-2 locomotive called Flying Scotsman… 

Monday 4th September 2017

Last week was the last of the summer holidays for many with children, but that didn’t stop some of the older generation from taking a break as well. So we were without Alan, Adrian and Keith last Wednesday, but this did not stop progress being made in various directions.

The cabin now has a glossy shine to itWith the weather looking reasonable last Wednesday, John and Tim applied a gloss coat of paint to the side of the new mess room that will be up against the shed wall when it is moved, hopefully some time in September. For those worried about painting the door, it swings inwards and so can be painted at any time!

The RMB servery area almost back in one pieceMike and Paul have continued work on the interior of the RMB with the servery heater guards being fitted and a new heater guard for one of the saloons being finished off and painted. John has been replacing some of the architraves around the doors where they have been damaged during the welding repairs.

Howard working on one of Caliban's sand boxesDespite the absence of other members of the team, Howard has continued his efforts to repair Caliban‘s sanding gear and can be seen here with one of the sand boxes.

Work continues on painting the tender framesFred and Roger have continued their task of painting Wootton Hall‘s tender frames, which are now beginning to look very smart, and Keith also appeared on Friday to carry on his work on the running plate.

Ready for the Heritage Open DaysDavid has made up a presentation board recording Wootton Hall‘s history in readiness for the opening up of the shed for the Heritage Open Days this next weekend. John making a stand for David's Wootton Hall presentationJohn is seen here making it some legs. Do come along this weekend to see progress. And don’t forget, it is also the Ribble Steam Railway’s Autumn Steam Gala.