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.

Monday 17th May 2021

The replacement Great Western Railway style axle lubrication pads for Wootton Hall‘s tender have finally arrived, much to Keith’s delight. This is what they look like (no that is not a small creature previously unknown to science…!) A new GWR style axle pad for Wootton Hall's tenderThis should pave the way for placing the tender chassis on to the wheels in due course.

Newly assembled axlebox on one of Wootton Hall's tender wheelsetsTim has produced a dozen new lubrication trimmings which will siphon oil from the upper oil tray. The first two axleboxes have now been assembled and fitted with the new pads and trimmings and the rate of flow of oil from the trimmings will be checked over a period of time.

Keith reports that the repairs to 5643’s vacuum cylinder have proved to be effective with a successful test last Thursday. The locomotive was in traffic at the East Lancs Railway over the weekend.

Work has continued on Furness Railway No. 20 with both clacks and the first of the injector delivery pipes being fitted. The fitting of the new injector steam valves took a step forward with the drilling of the new pipe flanges, which Alan achieved last Thursday at the former Victoria Engineering workshop at Longridge. Work has also continued on FR 20’s paintwork, along with the ongoing restoration of Fluff and the former Furness Railway water crane from Foxfield.

Monday 10th May 2021

Dome cover and spectacle plate fittedLast Wednesday saw another welcome step forward in the overhaul of Furness Railway No. 20. With the assistance of the Ribble Rail staff, FR 20 was pulled out of the FRT shed to enable the hi-ab on the self propelled TRAM to lift into place the dome cover and cab spectacle plate. Tim is seen wielding a spanner during the course of tightening up the nuts holding the spectacle plate in position.

Ade with the fork lift and ash panWhilst out of the shed, it was also a good opportunity to re-fit the ashpan, which needs to be done whilst the engine is situated on sleepered track to allow sufficient clearance below the firebox. Ade used the large fork lift truck to convey the ashpan to the far end of the shed.

How many people does it take to fit and ashpan?Fitting the heavy ashpan can be an awkward task and no less than Ade, Matt Crabtree, Tim, Sam, Ed and Alan are involved. Needless to say, brute force and plenty of wooden packing won the day.

Roger painting the awkward bits on the water craneOn Friday, Roger was found lying down on the job as he painted the Furness Railway water crane.

Fred painting the easier bits!Fred also took advantage of the better weather to add some paint.

John Davis polishes the copper top on Fluff's chimneyJohn Davis also made the best of the weather to polish the copper top of Fluff‘s chimney.

Keith paid another visit to Bury on Thursday to assist with the replacement of the slipping band in 5643’s vacuum cylinder, the old slipping band having been damaged by an unexpected ingress of oil. An in-steam test of the brakes was expected to take place today.

On financial matters, the Trust’s application for a new bank account with the Cooperative Bank under the RBS bank switch scheme has now been accepted. The FRT will benefit from better interest rates along with a bonus for completing the switch. Further information on how it affects members with direct debits etc will be available shortly. We are also pleased to report that the 2020 accounts prepared by David Rimmer have passed muster with the Trust’s Independent Examiner.

Monday 3rd May 2021

Fred removing paint from one of FR20's hand railsWith much relief, John Dixon successfully removed the formers from FR 20’s brick arch without any unplanned collapse. The engine’s hand rails have had to be fully stripped of any paint to enable them to be fitted through the stanchions, which gave Fred a job on Friday. Even then it was quite a fight to fit the right hand rail, but persistence won through and FR 20 is shown below in its current state.FR 20 with newly fitted hand rails

It is hoped to refit the large dome cover and cab spectacle plate this Wednesday.Alan adjusting the small dome cover for FR 20In the meantime, Alan has been adjusting the smaller dome cover to enable the new larger injector steam valves to the fitted.

Fluff's left hand sand box is refittedThe Fluff gang of Paul Newton, John Davis and Phil Bell have refitted the left hand sand box.

Fluff's left hand cab side is refittedIt was then the turn of the cab side to be fitted back into place, under the supervision of Mike Rigg.

Finally, 5643’s brakes incurred a problem when under test last week and so Keith is off to Bury tomorrow equipped with new slipping band and sealing rings for the vacuum cylinder. Replacing the slipping band is always an awkward job so we wish Keith luck!

Monday 26th April 2021

John Dixon busy with the concrete mixerThe work on FR 20’s overhaul continued this last week with the casting of a new brick arch. As Tim had successfully cast the previous two arches in the confined spaces of the locomotive’s firebox it was deemed that he should go for the hat trick. John duly supplied the concrete and, six bags of concrete later, the task was completed. Let’s hope that all is well when the formers are removed!

Alan with one of the new injector steam valves for FR 20The new replacement steam valves for the injectors have now arrived and Alan is seen here sizing up how they are going to be fitted. The previous steam valves had to be opened to their maximum to get the injectors to work and experience had shown them to have a limited life span  if not handled gently.

The Fluff team back all together in actionWe have been pleased to welcome back Roger Benbow, Paul Balshaw and Phil Bell after their respective periods of absence. Roger and Fred worked on the former Furness Railway water crane last Friday whilst the full Fluff team of Paul Newton, Paul Balshaw, John Davis and Phil Bell were back in action last Wednesday.

Finally, there was good news from the East Lancashire Railway where 5643 passed its 14 month steam test last Wednesday and is now ready for the ELR’s operating season.

Monday 19th April 2021

A short update this week.

Sam busy with the BrassoWith Alan allocating his time on Wednesday to dressing up for filming for the RSR’s new web site, Sam took on board polishing the copper pipework that had been annealed the previous week.

Ed rubbing down the running plate on FR 20Ed rubbed down FR 20’s right hand running plate ready for filling and painting.

FR 20 looking tidier at the front endJohn Dixon continued his work on the formers for FR 20’s new brick arch, which hopefully will be cast this next week, while Tim smartened up FR 20’s smokebox, chimney and lower front end with a coat of grey undercoat.

Ade fighting a losing battle with the rust on Caliban's smokeboxAde was seen giving Caliban‘s smokebox a tidy up with a wire brush.

Paul Newton painting a seat from FluffPaul Newton returned from giving assistance to the vaccination process to refurbish a cab seat from Fluff.

Tonight sees the Trustees meeting virtually to ponder over the 2020 accounts which David has prepared  and to review the draft Trustees’ Annual Report. With a mighty 17 items on the agenda let’s hope that everyone makes it to bed well before midnight!