Monday 8th January 2024

A belated Happy New Year to all our readers!

We are pleased to be able to report that progress has continued on projects over the Christmas and New Year period, even though some of our volunteers have been struck down by the Christmas lurgy.

5643's frames being cleaned and repaintedThe cleaning and repainting of the main frames of 5643 has continued, assisted by the frames being jacked up to release the radial truck wheels which are now ready for despatch for reprofiling of the tyres.

The new drawers for GER No. 5 being stained and varnishedPhil Bell has been producing replacement drawers for Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5, the wood for which has been stained and received its first coat of varnish.

John Davis refitting Fluff's brake blocksPhil and John Davis have also been re-assembling Fluff’s brake hangers and brake blocks.

Members should now have received their copy of the latest edition of The Iron Horse, although some are in the mess room for collection by regular working members. The facility for online payment for subscriptions has made a good start and the receipt of a number donations towards the Trust’s projects is very heartening. Thanks to you all.

Live Steam in action on New Year's EveFinally, our folk group, Live Steam, made its annual New Year’s Eve appearance at the Engine Inn, Cark-in-Cartmel with George coming up from Derby to assist Alan, Tim and Pete. Despite Pete and Tim being under the weather, the evening seemed to go down well with the audience and a useful addition to funds was earned.

Monday 18th December 2023

Keith looks on as Adam Wright inspects 5643's boilerOur boiler surveyor, Adam Wright, visited the FRT shed at Preston on Friday to inspect the boilers of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643 and Peckett 0-4-0ST Caliban. There was good news and bad news with the verdict on 5643 being pretty positive. It had already been planned to renew the 5/8” boiler stays, which was agreed with Adam along with some protective surface welding of the front tubeplate and a few sections of the boiler barrel. Adam is seen above inspecting the interior of the firebox through one of the large mudholes.

Unfortunately, the platework on Caliban’s inner firebox was deemed to be too thin to allow a ten year boiler certificate to be issued and the options for a new inner firebox will now be investigated.

Fortunately, this news didn’t spoil the FRT’s annual Christmas dinner that evening at the Ribble Pilot pub alongside Preston’s Dock. Our thanks go to Alison for organising it.

John Dixon paints one of the suction hose hangersElsewhere, John Dixon has been catching up with a couple of jobs. Firstly, he has been preparing some steel hangers for the fire pump suction pipes, which should help to keep them safe and away from potential damage.

John Dixon attending to heat damage on FR20's wooden boxSecondly, John has been attending to the wooden box which sits on FR 20’s running plate alongside the right hand smokebox. The box had sustained some heat damage whilst the locomotive was running up the steep gradients at Blaenavon, which is now being rectified. For similar reasons, Tim has now completed the re-painting of the smokebox door and the right hand side of the smokebox.

Sam cleaning the inside of one of 5643's wheels.The lifting of 5643’s frames has allowed access for cleaning the back of the wheels. Sam is seen here busy cleaning one of the wheels.

Alan is wheeled away from one of the Santa Specials by AlisonTim and Alan had hoped for some relief from the playing of Christmas songs on the RSR’s Santa Specials through the offer of help from Graham and Bernadette Dixon. Unfortunately, both Graham and Bernadette both went down with ‘flu after the second weekend and so Tim and Alan had to complete the final weekend on their own. Alan is seen here being wheeled away for recovery by Alison after performing on the second train on Sunday.

Sam on top of Courageous's' cab after the last train on Sunday, 17th DecemberFinally, Sam (pictured right) had his first firing turn on a Santa Special and is seen here with the rest of the crew waiting for a group photo to be taken.

With both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day taking place on Mondays, it has been decided to continue with the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday format for working parties over the Christmas and New Year period – so no let up there!

We leave you this week with very best wishes to all our readers for a great Christmas and New Year. (No, there won’t be a blog next Monday!!) A reminder here that, folk group Live Steam will be playing at the Engine Inn, Cark-in-Cartmel, on New Year’s Eve.

Tuesday 12th December 2023

As we head towards the end of yet another year, members at Preston have
continued to catch up with a number of jobs, mainly on the small side this

AW & Co clearly marked on 5643's radial truckThe cast frame for Great Western Railway 0-6-2T 5643’s radial truck
has been cleaned and painted. Both axleboxes are marked with 66XX
numbers whilst the casting was clearly manufactured by Armstrong
Whitworth of Newcastle upon Tyne, who built the last 50 of the 56/66XX
classes, 6650 to 6699.

Phil Burton sanding a donated chairThe Trust has been donated a number of chairs for Great Eastern Railway
royal saloon No. 5 which Phil Burton has been sanding down.

This next Friday is an important date in the calendar as our boiler surveyor is
coming to Preston at 8am to inspect the boilers of 5643 and Peckett 0-4-0ST
Caliban. There will be discussions as to the extent of the work required during
the overhaul of each of the boilers. 15 members are then due to sit down that evening for the annual FRT Christmas dinner.

Talking of Christmas, the Ribble Steam Railway’s Santa Specials have been
running fully booked and a further five trains are due to operate next Saturday
and Sunday. Alan and Tim, who have previously provided all the Christmas
music on board the trains, have this year been joined by Graham and
Bernadette Dixon, which has lightened the load considerably.

Monday 4th December 2023

Spotless axlebox and keepIt has been another week of steady progress with the overhaul of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643. There has been some fastidious cleaning of components taking place as can be seen by this photo of one of the axlebox bearings and keep.

Fred cleaning 5643's radial wheelsFred has been concentrating on cleaning the radial wheels before they are sent away for re-profiling.

Finally, as we head towards the close of the year, Alan Middleton has been putting the final touches to the next edition of The Iron Horse, which is now with our printer. All being well this should be out before Christmas.

Monday 27th November 2023

Ed Tatham jacks up the rear of 5643's frames on Wednesday, 22nd NovemberThere was some good progress on the overhaul of GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643 this week. Ed Tatham is seen here jacking up the rear of the frames on Wednesday so that the radial wheels could be released.

John Dixon with the released wheelsOnce the wheels had been released the chassis was then partially lowered.

Keith Brewer and Sam Middleton working to dismantle the radial truckKeith and Sam worked on Saturday to dismantle the radial truck so that the wheels can be sent away to be re-profiled.

5643's boiler after the NDT with dye penetrant visibleFriday saw a short notice visit from Jim Kennedy and son to undertake a non-destructive test on 5643’s boiler. The white dye penetrant that was used can clearly be seen. We are pleased to report that the initial results were positive, but we await a visit from the boiler surveyor to confirm the extent of work required on the boiler during its ten-year overhaul.

Alan Middleton with the gift wrapped replacement engine for FluffWednesday saw the arrival of a gift wrapped package that was delivered from Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Inside was a four cylinder Perkins diesel engine with twin disc torque converter for Fowler 0-4-0DM Fluff, which had become surplus to requirements at the Pleasure Beach but which should give new life to Fluff. The FRT is extremely grateful to Blackpool Pleasure Beach for helping out the Trust in this way.

FR 20's smokebox door being readied for re-paintingFinally, Tim has set about beautifying Furness Railway No. 20’s smokebox after the lower paintwork had been burnt away during the locomotive’s climbs up the steep gradients at Blaenavon’s Heritage Railway this summer.

Monday 20th November 2023

Just a very short blog this week.

There is still plenty of work going on in the FRT shed at Preston, notably the rise on jacks of 5643’s frames which will eventually allow the release of the radial wheels for re-profiling.

The first Santa Specials are being run at the Ribble Steam Railway this next Saturday for a large party of Brownies so Alan and Tim will be reprising their renditions of Jingle Bells etc this coming week.

Most importantly, we can know let everyone know that the Furness Railway Trust’s annual Christmas Dinner will be held on Friday, 15th December!


Monday 13th November 2023

Ed cleaning paint from 5643's running plateWork has continued on the frames of Great Western Railway 0-6-2T No. 5643. Ed is seen cleaning paint off the running plate.

Jon Dixon painting 5643Jon Dixon has been catching up with some painting underneath.

John Dixon warming up Sam's nutsSam has been attempting to remove the nuts that hold the rear cylinder covers in place, the bottom nuts being particularly stubborn. John Dixon has been applying some gas heat to loosen them off.

Some welcome progress on the exterior of Wootton Hall's tender tankElsewhere, Phil Bell has been working in the kitchen of Great Eastern Railway royal saloon No. 5 to replace missing drawers. Keith has been applying some more two-pack primer inside the tender of Great Western Railway ‘Hall’ class 4-6-0 No. 4979 Wootton Hall and is intending to conduct another water test shortly. Meanwhile Tim has been attending to the ‘ploughed field’ surface on the exterior of the water tank. Much of the left hand side has now received a skim of filler which has been sanded. A first coat of primer is being applied which has the added benefit of highlighting areas that need further attention.

Monday 6th November 2023

Sim and Jon Dixon with the fire pump.As predicted in last week’s blog, the wash out of 5643’s boiler took place last Wednesday. We were able to welcome Sim Dixon for his first working party who, along with twin brother Jon, coaxed the fire pump into life after some tender care. Both Sim and Jon were members of the Lakeside Railway Society fire brigade in the early days at Haverthwaite and they also owned two wartime fire tenders, one of which they still have.

The ensemble of FRT rolling stock with Alen Johnson holding the hoseAde had pulled the various rolling stock out of the FRT shed to enable to the wash out to take place, FR 20’s tender supplying the water as usual. Given the distance involved, there had to be an established signalling system between Sam, who was wielding the hose pipe, and Sim and Jon who were controlling the fire pump. Alen Johnson was on hand to hold the hose in place for Sam.

Andy Booth in 5643's somebox cutting out the first flue tubeAndy Booth came to Preston on Friday with the aim of removing the six flue tubes from 5643’s boiler. These were expected to be stubborn, being screwed into the firebox tubeplate. Andy can be seen at work in the smokebox…

Sam at work in 5643's firebox… whilst Sam gave assistance from the firebox.

The first flue on its way outAndy gets the first of the flues on its way out.

John Dixon and Keith Brewer lend a hand to haul out the flue tubeThe flue is then pulled out of the boiler by John Dixon and Keith.

The flue tube sees daylightA final view as the flue makes its way into daylight, to be followed eventually by the other five flues. A good job done.

John Davis re-painting the cab warning plate from 5643Finally, John Davis has been cleaning 5643’s cab and has repainted the cast plate which warns crews of the perils of looking or walking alongside the cab.

Monday 30th October 2023

FR20 and GER5 head off to the FRT shed for winterAde kindly performed the shunt that brought Furness Railway No. 20 and Great Eastern royal saloon No. 5 back into the FRT shed where winter maintenance can be undertaken.

A good clean of FR 20 would not go amiss and work is required to remove traces of burnt paintwork on the smokebox and smokebox door after its strenuous efforts at Blaenavon!

5643's frames Work continues on the cleaning and stripping down of 5643’s frames. The above photo indicates the progress being made with the paintbrushes.

Finally, arrangements are currently being made for a non-destructive test of the boiler which will assist with assessing the extent of work required during the overhaul. It is planned that a second wash out of the boiler will take place this Wednesday now that the small tubes have been removed.

Monday 23rd October 2023

The new driver's brake valve for Wootton HallKeith visited Tyseley Loco Works last Tuesday and picked up the long-awaited brand new driver’s brake valve for GWR ‘Hall’ class 4-6-0 No. 4979 Wootton Hall. This should just about complete the cab fittings required for the locomotive.

One of the two new steam heating valves for Wootton HallKeith had also arranged to pick up two new steam heat valves for Wootton Hall which had been machined up, one of them being seen here.

Saturday saw all the small tubes removed from GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643. Just the six flue tubes now remain, and these will be removed this Wednesday.

The eccentric strap from Cumbria which needed repairAnd there was good news from Embsay last Thursday in that ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Cumbria passed an in-steam test following the repair to one of its eccentric straps by Andy Booth. The above photo shows the strap with the side piece of metal that had fallen away.