Monday 20th March 2017

This week we start by reporting the passing of our 110 volt Makita hand drill, which was purchased as long ago at 2001. Sixteen years of hard use can’t be bad and, after some discussion about the characteristics required of its successor,  it has been replaced by a new, slightly more powerful, Makita drill which arrived on Friday. We look forward to another sixteen years of productive use…..

Ready for paintingThe seemingly never ending work on the RMB continued again this week. John has just about finished his endeavours at the east end of the coach and it is seen here ready for the final coats of paint – the view rather belies the amount of work that John has put in to bring the metalwork back up to standard. John is aiming to get around to the west end next week in order to re-instate the passenger operated brake mechanism, otherwise known as the communication cord. This will enable the panelling on the south side toilet to be completed after the communication cord has been permanently re-attached to the frame of the coach. Mike contemplatingMike Rigg has been busy completing the re-installation of fittings in the north side toilet and can be seen here contemplating his next move. Paul cleans the toilet doorPaul is seen cleaning the door ready for fitting.

The new shelving on the 1st Class NLR coach bodyWith a need to start emptying the RMB, which has acted as a store in recent years, David has been erecting the shelving, kindly donated by Michael Cook, in the first class North London Railway coach body. It is seen here in partially constructed condition. David has now finished the job and some of the equipment has already been moved over. However, at Adrian’s suggestion, David took it upon himself to clean the windows of our new store so that we can see our way around only to find that most of the muck removed was Adrian’s dust! Just need now to replace the exterior door which fell off on Saturday..

Adrian continues to create that cloud of dust above Caliban as he cleans up the frames with both needle gun and cup wire brush. Alan at work with a paint brushAlan is seen here with paint brush in hand putting red oxide on what will be the underside of the new piece of Caliban‘s running board after having received tips of the trade on painting from none other than Adrian! Some grey undercoat was subsequently applied on Friday by the C&W team.

Work has also continued on Wootton Hall where some of the firebox back head cladding has been attached in order to mount some of the fittings temporarily on a test basis. Keith removing the front platework on Wootton HallThe front platework on Wootton Hall removedKeith has also removed some of the engine’s platework adjacent to the front bufferbeam so that it can be cleaned up and painted. Fred at work cleaning up the plateworkFred took on the challenge of wire brushing the plate on Friday and can be seen at work here.

This next weekend sees the opening event in the RSR’s operating calendar with the Diesel Gala on the 25th and 26th. A Colas locomotive is due to attend on the Saturday.

Over the Pennines, Alan will be looking after FR 20 during four days of steaming, starting on Thursday for two days of driver assessments (Tim also attending Friday) and then two days in traffic.

Monday 13th March 2017

Ballast being dropped on road fourRoad four in the unheated area of the new shed received ballast up to the top of the sleepers, as can be seen in this photo where Keith is watching Phil Preston operate the hydraulic grab on the RSR TRAM. The day when we will be concreting (or the ‘C’ word as John termed it last week) again draws ever closer.

John has been busying himself completing floor repairs at the east end of the RMB and Tim has applied a first coat of primer over the recently completed body repairs around the corridor connection. Toilet taking shapeMike Rigg has almost completed the re-installation of panelling in the first of the RMB toilets. A clear out of the vast amount of paraphernalia in the RMB – some useful and some for the skip – has started and David Rimmer is clearing a space in the first class North London Railway coach body to accommodate the useful items. Michael Cook kindly donated some shelving a little while ago and it is planned to erect this in the coming week or so.

Paul and the paint cupboardIn addition, Paul Newton is breathing new life into the old RSR paint cupboard in readiness to receive the paint cans that are currently stored in the RMB.

Elsewhere, Adrian has been making more dust (Wednesday) on cleaning up Caliban‘s frames followed by Fred on Friday. Alan was also busy on the project on Wednesday, when we had a visitation from long term member, Neil Glover.

Wootton Hall's water collection chamberKeith has also been busy with the new water collection chamber which will eventually be fastened under the new tender tank for Wootton Hall, when commissioned. As can be seen from the photo, it is now getting to the paint stage.

Monday 6th March 2017

Paul and Mike cleaning brass carriage grab handlesMike and Tim finished cleaning the windows on the RMB last Wednesday and Mike and Paul are seen here making a start on cleaning up the brass handles ready for fitting. The new letter 'B'Paul has also been filing the new letter B for the gas compartment cover. Re-assembling the inside of the RMBThe temporary absence of Tom and Trevor has been felt in that it is now time to re-assemble the internal panelling and Mike started the work by cleaning down the various components in the south side toilet – not a job to be relished. He is seen here re-installing a pelmet for one of the saloon compartment doors.

The dust curfew is definitely over, with Adrian creating both noise and dust with the needle gun and cup wire brush on Wednesday as he worked on Caliban‘s frames. Adrian has also recently celebrated a birthday and duly arranged for Alison to bake some cakes to share on Wednesday – this run of birthday cakes isn’t doing productivity in the afternoon any good! Drilling holes in the new piece of Caliban's running boardAlan continued to drill holes in the new piece of running board. We refrained from including yet more photos of Fred and Roger at work on Caliban‘s wheels although it can be reported that they have recently changed sides!

The new lubrication valves fitted on the smokebox of Wootton HallThe newly acquired lubrication valves for Wootton Hall have now been fitted in position on the smokebox. This view of the right hand side shows the sole regulator lubrication valve above one of the two cylinder lubrication valves -the other being fitted to the left hand side of the smokebox.

Keith reports to us that the track on road four of the unheated part of the shed has now been levelled and awaits some more ballast and crush and run filling in readiness for concreting. There may still be a need to level some of the track on road three, so there is a potential stay of execution before we all have to start wheeling heavy wheelbarrows of concrete around the shed.

News from The Battlefield Line is that Cumbria is expected to undergo its annual cold exam for the boiler surveyor next week. One of the clacks is being refurbished and the big ends are being taken down for white metalling before it goes back into service at Easter.

Latest local transport news – for those wanting to travel to the FRT’s home at the Ribble Steam Railway from Preston station and wishing to forego the ten minutes walk from McDonalds, there is good news in that there is now almost an hourly 75/75A service from the station, commencing at 07.10, then 09.25 and 25 minutes past the hour until it starts to vary at 16.31, Mondays to Fridays. On Saturdays it is 07.25, 09.25 and then 25 minutes past the hour until 17.40.


Monday 27th February 2017

Work continues apace on the current projects at Preston.

Mike cleans one of the RMB's windowsBoth Wednesday and Friday saw efforts made to bring the RMB’s windows up to serviceable standard, with Tim, Mike (see above) and Paul brandishing scrapers and cleaning rags to get rid of paint and ingrained dirt.

John has been working on the final repairs to the steelwork at the north east end of the RMB, with the final sheet of new steel being positioned: John positions the final piece of steelwork on the RMB… and the finished welded job:The steelwork welded into placeSo So plenty of work for Tim next Wednesday with the filler and sander to remove all traces of the repair.

The successful mouldPaul and Mike have had a second attempt at creating a plaster of Paris mould for the plate to go on the new gas compartment door on the RMB. This time they were successful, and the next job is to use some casting resin to create the plate itself. Meanwhile, Paul has been creating a new letter ‘B’ to go on the door, and is seen here removing some of the waste metal with the aid of a pillar drill:Paul at work on the letter 'B'

Adrian has continued his paint treatment of Caliban‘s inner frames whilst Alan has been drilling more holes in the replacement steel for Caliban’s running board. The machined lubrication box for CalibanHoward has been making progress with one of the new lubrication boxes, with the machined casting seen here.Fred at work on Caliban's wheelsRoger still chipping away at Caliban's spokesFred and Roger have again been hard at work on the wheels – this week’s photos look very much like last week’s – did they ever go home? Alison's baking being enjoyed on Wednesday afternoonAlan, incidentally, brought in birthday cakes for everyone on Wednesday, and some of the gang can be seen seated around the table enjoying the results of Alison’s baking.

Keith holds one of Wootton Hall's new cylinder lubrication valvesKeith continues to gather together components for Wootton Hall, including the new cylinder lubrication valves seen here. Meanwhile George has again been working on the old tubes.

The Fluff gang continue with cleaning up components on the diminutive diesel and look forward to the day when they can get the engine removed.

Finally, our folk band Live Steam has its first practice of the year scheduled for tomorrow evening, Tuesday, in anticipation of a gig at Staining on the 8th April for a birthday party.

Monday 20th February 2017

More new plate required on the RMBJohn grinding down weldWith the RMB successfully varnished last Monday, work on the east corridor end has resumed in earnest with John tackling the repairs on the north east corner and Tim applying filler and sander to the south west corner. Most of the door frames are now painted and protective masking tape has been removed from door handles ready for them to be polished. Now that the surrounding paint has had chance to harden, work on cleaning the windows, both inside and outside, is expected to commence in earnest this next week.

Howard cleaning up a lubrication pot lidHoward has been preparing newly cast brass lubrication pots for use on Caliban. Adrian getting through lots of red paintThe dust curfew in the shed had to be unexpectedly maintained on Wednesday as Adrian had plans to paint the inside of Caliban‘s frames under the cab. An inspection on Friday revealed that Adrian had managed to put a liberal amount on the shed and pit floors and also the one of the pit boards! Fred making the dust fly againRoger chipping away at a spokeFred broke the dust curfew on Friday, cleaning up Caliban‘s wheels, whilst Roger continued his painstaking task of chipping paint from the wheel spokes.

Alan had the day off on Wednesday to recover from toothache and to prepare for his first weekend of the year at Locomotion, Shildon, where FR 20 was back in service. Alan celebrated his birthday on Friday preparing the loco and giving it a whirl on the new section of running line to the east of the platform, which has just been brought into use – video is available via our Facebook site and a photo is shown here with FR 20 alongside more modern traction, whose days are now numbered!FR 20 on the new east running line at Locomotion 190217 All went well over the weekend and Alison made some useful sales income as well as receiving some donated items from the Friends of the NRM’s north east branch – well done, and thanks also to the Friends!

This last weekend also saw another Wootton Hall working party as work progresses on its restoration.

Sunday 12th February 2017

The blog has been written a day early this week as a busy Monday awaits!

Firstly, we need to wish Keith a Happy Birthday for Monday. Keith is taking the day off, but the Preston Branch meeting on Tuesday evening (8 pm at The Ale Emporium, Fylde Road, Preston) will give you the opportunity to pass on your birthday wishes!

The new track completedThe trackwork out the shed has now been pronounced “complete”, with everything in place and ballasted. Again, well done to all concerned for completing this within a relatively short timescale and in some pretty cold weather at times.

Inside the shed, the lining and lettering on the RMB has now been completed and – in a late addition to this week’s blog – has now been varnished too. The RMB in varnishThe lack of dust from other projects in the shed whilst the RMB has been painted has been very much appreciated, but normal services can be resumed from Wednesday. More new platework on the RMBJohn has again been busy completing repairs to the bodywork and floor at the east end of the coach, and the paintwork here will be undertaken once the work has finished. Paul paints the last bogie side on the RMBPaul appeared on Friday and is seen here painting the side of one of the bogies in gloss black. It has to be reported, though, that the project to create a new plate for the side of the gas storage door suffered a setback for, when Paul removed the plaster of Paris mould, it was found that some of the lettering was unclear – perhaps the mould had been left in place for too long. Another attempt will be made when some proper release agent has been acquired.

Caliban's frames go pinkWork has continued apace on Caliban, with Adrian using the dust curfew to paint the frames with a fetching shade of pink undercoat. Likewise, Fred and Roger have been sorting out components in a dust free manner, and Alan has been drilling holes in a new section of running board.Alan drills holes in new running board for Caliban

Keith has been busy re-fixing the loose valve head on 5643 before heading over to Embsay with George yesterday to undertake some more winter maintenance on the loco.

Alan and Sam working on FR20Looking forward to next weekend, Furness Railway No. 20 is back in steam at Locomotion, Shildon, and Alan and Sam (seen here under FR 20) paid a flying visit there on Friday to prepare the loco with the assistance of Brian Goodfellow. He will no doubt be glad to see that the weather for the end of the week is forecast to warm up a little.

Monday 6th February 2017

Monday, 6th February 2017

The RMB changing colourMore paint has been added to the sides of the RMB this week as work has moved on to applying a gloss finish. A final coat of varnish will be added by John and Tim, hopefully next Monday.

Paul prepares the gas door plate prior to making a mouldMike and Paul, meanwhile, have been working on creating a sign for the RMB’s new gas door cover. This has involved delving back into likes of old Blue Peter annuals to re-discover the joys of using plaster of Paris to create a mould from the other door cover from which a new sign can be cast. We see here Paul preparing the existing sign with a release agent. News of success or failure on this particular project will be brought to you in future blogs!

The new parts washerWith a temporary dust ban in place in the shed this week, we were again spared the noise of the needle gun as Adrian resorted to using a paint brush instead. Alan and John were engaged in the dust-free project of assembling a new parts washer, which has been kindly donated to the FRT along with a supply of paraffin. This should make the cleaning of greasy/oily components much easier in the future. Fred and Roger appeared on Friday and also managed to find dust-free jobs on which to be engaged in progressing Caliban‘s overhaul.

There was a further working party on Wootton Hall on Saturday, with George making an appearance to prepare some more tubes for removal from the boiler and, with some help from David, cutting up some of the tubes already removed for loading into the metal skip.

Outside the shed, there has been some further tweaking of the alignment of the track into road four of the shed prior to the final packing of the ballast.

Finally, a first call now for the Preston Branch meeting next Tuesday 14th February. There will be some presentations of bygone rail traction and, as it’s St. Valentine’s night, it could be an excuse to bring along the other half for some steamy entertainment?! As usual, the meeting will be held at 8pm at the Ale Emporium, Fylde Road, Preston.

Monday 30th January 2017

Road 4 rails in situDrilling the last fishplate bolt holeThe big news this week is that road four of the shed is now connected to the rest of the RSR’s network. The photographs show the newly-laid rails on the right hand side and also the Ribble Rail staff drilling the final bolt hole to enable fishplates to be attached. The lead into road four still needs more ballast and packing, but the job is well on the way to being completed. Congratulations all round to those who have worked so hard to achieve this.

The RMB in undercoatInside the shed, work has continued on the RMB, with John still coming up with solutions to repair the floor at the east end of the coach. There has also been further work on the new gas holder door and the new paint store by Mike and Paul. Tim has been busy masking off and painting the sides in undercoat.

Adrian appeared on Wednesday to find that the compressor was out of action (“peace on earth,” we all muttered), but Adrian then went into action with his electric wire brush to produce a plume of dust from Caliban‘s running board that was likened to Vesuvius in full eruption! We’re hoping for a week off from this on Wednesday as it now seems to be the date on which a coat of gloss paint will be applied to the RMB.

Howard at workFred and Roger appeared on Friday to continue their works on cleaning up components. We welcomed Howard as a new member on Wednesday when he took advantage of the January transfer window to move across and help us with Caliban. Howard is pictured here working on the 0-4-0ST’s right-hand cylinder end studs.

The 5643 gang has once again been across to Embsay this last Saturday – we hope that it wasn’t too cold for them. Keith tells us that he examined the vacuum pump and found that the piston head had worked loose again – a good job that it was found in time before serious damage was done. Other time was spent in cleaning between the frames.

And finally, our friends over at the RCTS Furness, Lakes and Lune Branch have a European Video Night this Friday evening (at the Royal Station Hotel at Carnforth starting at 7.30pm) given by Colin Kennington. In two parts, it first features diesels in North Germany and Denmark, including diverted freight trains, the Sylt car shuttles and a surprising narrow gauge line. Although this was filmed in 2015, much has already gone. And in part 2, East Germany in 2010, including narrow gauge steam on the Harz and Selketalbahn, the Rubelandbahn, mainline action and an electrified narrow gauge industrial line. They request a “small contribution” to cover costs. They are also seeking people to help run this group to avoid it having to close later this year – so use it or lose it!

Monday 23rd January 2017

After last week’s marathon we have a slightly shorter blog for you this week. It’s also the first to be published directly into the new home of this blog, using new software that not only speeds up the production process (hurrah say the blog team members) but also  makes it better for you the reader, especially if you view the blog on a mobile phone or tablet (hopefully, hurrah say you the readers).

John welding the gas box handlesWork continues apace at Preston on the RMB as the finishing line is now just about in sight, even if it is still somewhat in the distance. John has been welding door handles on to the new gas box which Mike and Paul have been working on during the last month or so. The handles allow the door to be locked into place on the vehicle.

John's former unknown unknown - a hole in the floorJohn working on his holeJohn has also been busy making a hole in the floor of the south facing doorway at the east end of the coach. John came across the rot in the wood floor whilst repairing the steel ribs at the corridor end. When the subject of this unexpected additional work being found so late on in the repair process was raised, John became very philosophical, repeating Donald Rumsfeld’s famous quote, when he was US Secretary of State for Defense (sorry, but we had better use the US spelling!) in February 2002, that ‘there are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know.’ That only leaves us to hope that there aren’t too many more unknown unknowns left on this particular coach!

Tim with his 'custard'Meanwhile, with John still engaged on looking into the unexpected hole in the floor, Tim has started in earnest the process of painting the sides of the carriage, with some of the sliding windows and door window edges now sporting the final gloss colour of cream. On learning that some serious painting sessions were imminent, both Adrian and Fred have enquired as to whether they can have a few days off from making dust, with Fred rather fancying some extended time in the mess room brewing tea! Needless to say, it is to be hoped that there will be as little disruption to the dust making processes on Caliban as possible. The following photos show both Adrian and Fred hard at work on the frames and the eccentric straps.

Adrian making more dustFred making more dust, cleaning Caliban's eccentrics

Alan with his die nutAlan, John H and Sam have also been at work on the loco, with Alan pictured here running a die nut over the some of the cylinder end studs.

Mike cleaning up the new paint storeOutside, Mike has been cleaning up the steel cabinet which we intend to use as a paint store – this will become necessary as we move out the various cans of paint that have been stored in the RMB in recent years.

Further work on removing the tubes from Wootton Hall‘s boiler by George was planned for this last Saturday and it was also hoped to make further progress on the track outside the shed – we’ll report back next week. Looking forward to next weekend, Keith is planning another trip across to Embsay to work on 5643 and, therefore, Tim might well take advantage of an empty shed to get some more paint on the RMB.


Monday 16th January 2017

Here we are again, after a long festive break, with the first blog of the New Year.
Whilst the blog team has been taking a rest from writing over the Christmas and New Year period, the guys at Preston have been busy on all of our current projects.

The trackworks progressing outside the shedThe trackworks progressing outside the shedThe track work outside the shed has made good progress, as can be seen from the above photos, with road three of the shed now re-connected to the rest of the RSR and, therefore, the national network and thenceforth the line to Russia! The sleepers for road four are also now in position. Well done to all concerned (Russ, Ed, Keith, George, Phil and Mike McA), for the weather has sometimes been bitterly cold, not to mention very wet.

John working on the end of the RMBInside the warmth of the shed, John has again been working on repairs to the east end of the RMB, which has required replacing some of the floor and various areas of steelwork. Tim has finished sanding and filling the sides of the RMB and has embarked on applying some undercoat in readiness for the main paint job, which he hopes to commence shortly.

Sticking on the "frosting"The finished toilet windowOne job on the RMB that has lingered on the ‘jobs to do’ list for far too long has been the replacement of the south side toilet window. Trevor had constructed a template some while ago, but no-one had got around to sourcing the new glass. However, with the list other jobs now diminishing, it was decided that the new window must be sourced. A search through the RSR’s spares failed to find a second hand pane that would fit and so a final examination of the FRT’s CCT store was made and, much to our surprise, Mike found a sheet of toughened glass to the correct size, although it did not have the required ‘frosted’ opaque finish that gives the necessary privacy to those using the loo. A quick search of the internet enabled a plastic film to be acquired for the princely sum of £6, and Mike and Paul are seen here fitting the film to the newly cleaned sheet of glass, which is now securely fitted to the RMB. So, another job crossed off the list.

Roger working on Caliban's wheelsFred removing another bit of CalibanAlan and Ade at work on CalibanAlan, John H, Adrian, Sam, Fred and Roger have continued their labours to clean up the frames, wheels and components on Caliban and to free up parts that have seized through lack of use over the past thirty years. Roger can be seen chipping paint off the wheels, Fred removing another component, and Alan and Adrian at work on the frames.

Alan and Sam working to remove an eccentric strap on CalibanFred cleaning up an eccentric strapThis last Wednesday saw Caliban‘s eccentric straps being removed leaving Fred the job of cleaning them up on Friday.

Ben and Alan O have continued work on Fluff in Anthony’s absence and are hoping to get the loco within reach of a crane in the next month or so in order that the engine can be removed.

The new tender water collection tank for Wootton HallAnd so we come to Wootton Hall where Keith has been constructing a replacement water collection tank that is fitted beneath the tender tank and contains the two filters, one for each delivery pipe to the injectors.

George has also been able to spend several days at Preston over the Christmas period and has been able to remove more of the Hall’s old small tubes. Keith reckons that he has only around another 50 tubes to remove. More good news is that two of our working members have very kindly sponsored the two reverser mechanism castings that were acquired before Christmas. Well done!

The King was in his counting house... Alison very kindly provided the Wednesday Gang on the  4th January with a fresh supply of mince pies (yum, yum) and also brought in the December takings from the sales stand, which David is seen counting here. There were also vanilla slices on hand last Friday to celebrate Tim’s birthday.

Tim met up with some old faces when he gave a talk on the FRT’s activities to the Marsh History Group in Lancaster on Thursday afternoon. Ken Nuttall and Tommy Rawlings were present at the meeting and enjoyed seeing some of the more up-to-date images of the FRT’s rolling stock both under restoration and in action around the UK.

A working party was convened at Embsay last Saturday to examine 5643 after its busy period hauling Santa Specials. Efforts are being made to procure a new ejector ring to replace the original, which developed an unplanned hole at Christmas.