Tuesday 24th April 2018

Mike Rigg drills holes so that the brush strips alongside the TPO doors can be fixedThe RSR’s TPO spent its last week in the FRT’s shed as Mike (above) and Paul (below) fitted the brush strips alongside the sliding doors and John Dixon cleaned the windows and touched up some of the paintwork. Paul Newton screws in a brush strip on the TPO

Finished job with brush strip fixedIt It is planned that the TPO coach will be moved out of the shed today and replaced by the Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5 which will need a little TLC to its upholstery and exterior varnish after being in use at Beamish for eight years. And, of course, there are still some jobs that we never finished off in the first place!

Chris Rycroft and Howard Fletcher line up the jack hammer to try and remove one of Caliban's spring hanger pins. 180418Chris Rycroft and Howard Fletcher are seen here between Caliban‘s frames last Wednesday manoeuvring a jack hammer into position in order to try and remove another of the very stubborn spring hanger pins. One pin was removed on Wednesday but it looks as if it will be necessary to drill out the other pins, which will no doubt take some considerable time and effort.

Laying tarmac outside the FRT shed. 200418Outside the shed, tarmac was laid on Friday in preparation for the creation of the Ribble Steam Railway’s new children’s playground. John and Fred fixing a new aerial above the mess room 200418John and Fred were on the mess room roof in order to fix a new outside aerial, and the completed tarmac and aerial can be seen here. Tarmac laid and aerial fitted 200418Inside the mess room John has fitted a much needed new towel rail.

Keith has taken delivery of two new sheets of steel as he proceeds with the re-building of the top of the tender frames. With the TPO coach finished, Mike reverted to chasing up electrical faults on the FRT’s former RMB and discovered new fuses that didn’t actually contain any fuse wire..!

Cumbria at Embsay on Saturday waiting to depart with the 13.30 to Bolton AbbeyCumbria arrived at Embsay as scheduled last Thursday and was pressed into traffic straight away on Saturday and Sunday. Alan and Tim each went for a footplate ride on the old ‘Red Rocket’ on Saturday and proclaimed that it was good to see it back in action closer to home. Cumbria is seen here at Embsay on Saturday ready to depart with the 13.30 train to Bolton Abbey.

The new tubes for 5643 in the loco shed at Embsay waiting to be fitted by Andy BoothAlso seen here at Embsay are the new small boiler tubes for 5643 which had arrived and are now waiting to be fitted by Andy Booth.

Finally there was a very long meeting of, the Trustees last night, which finished at 11.45 pm, having been on the go since 8 pm. It seems  that the forthcoming challenges of the new General Data Protection Regulation were of rather more interest to everyone than might have been anticipated! Members should expect a letter on the subject in the post over the next week or so.

Monday 16th April 2018

It has been another busy week for us at Preston which has seen the restoration of the RSR’s Travelling Post Office Sorting Vehicle almost complete.

The vinyls being applied by PPSThe people from PPS Graphics from nearby Anchorage Business Park turned up as scheduled on Wednesday morning and, with Tim’s assistance, applied the fantastic graphics to the bodysides of the TPO.

The job took over three hours, but the care given to getting things right was well rewarded in terms of the finished product. Having checked that the yellow stripes painted on the bottom panels were a good match to the graphics, the masking tape was duly removed and the vehicle readied for varnishing on the Friday. Meanwhile, John Dixon and John Davis had been busy painting below the frames, applying the ‘electric orange’ paint to the various electrical cabinets and electric train heat equipment.

The main task on Friday, to varnish the coach both sides from end to end, was completed without incident by John Dixon and Tim whilst John Davis prepared and cleaned the brush strips which will be refitted to the sides of the sliding doors – these were presumably designed to prevent draughts whilst the TPO train was travelling at speed. It is intended to refit these brush strips this next week before the TPO is moved into the RSR’s Museum to become the centrepiece of a feature on Mail by Rail. Varnished and nearly ready to goThe TPO coach is seen here after varnishing had been completed.

Howard has had a frustrating time in trying to remove the spring hanger pins on Caliban, the application of heat by John Stewart the previous Saturday having seemingly had little effect. Alan Ogden appeared on Wednesday to continue his work on Fluff but, in Adrian’s absence, took pity on Howard and lent a hand. Adrian – it looks as if there will still be plenty of work for you to do when you return from your convalescence!

Ian Massey returned on Friday to continue the task of welding the new front steel plates on to Wootton Hall‘s tender frames. A screen was rigged up to prevent sparks from affecting the nearby work on the RMB. (It’s in the background of the picture of the almost-completed TPO van.) The completion of this welding is a key milestone in the project to re-build the tender, so well done to all concerned.

Mike Rigg turned up on Friday with his electrical gear to do some work on the FRT’s former RMB, No. 1812. It appears that the lighting system has been causing some problems, but Mike informs us that things seemed to have improved when he called in to check during the RSR’s Diesel Gala on Saturday.

Cumbria‘s successful stint of over two years at The Battlefield Line concluded this last weekend and the loco is scheduled to be transferred to the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway on Thursday. All being well, it should be in steam there next weekend.

The travails of the FRT’s support vehicles (the campervans) continue as the now 46 years old VW owned by Tim finished up arriving at Morecambe for its MoT and service on the back of an AA truck, having failed during its journey there on the A590 through a fuel pump failure. The good news is that it is now back home and ready for action, although the mackerel tin lid that is held in place over a hole in the exhaust tail pipe by three jubilee clips is still in position as it was deemed by all concerned to be an adequate repair!

Finally, there is a meeting of the Trustees next Monday evening at Alison’s house when the 2017 Accounts and Trustees’ Annual Report will be reviewed followed by a discussion on Mike’s proposed action plan for the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulations. And then there will no doubt be the little matter of making suitable inroads into Alison’s sandwiches before we are allowed to go home!

Monday 9th April 2018

Only a brief update this week following the late publication of last week’s blog.

John Dixon concentrates on applying the yellow undercoatThe paintwork on the RSR’s TPO is almost complete following the working parties on Wednesday and Friday. Ready for the vinylsThe yellow stripes along the lower panels of the body were added as was the orange electrical warning line on the gutter edges. One of Roger's brightly coloured bogiesThe painting of the bogies was completed on Friday with Roger adding the final touches of colour before he disappears on holiday. The vinyls should be added on Wednesday followed by a final coat of varnish on Friday.

Howard has been working alone on Caliban in Adrian’s absence. Ade before the knifeWe are pleased to be able to report that Ade should now be back at home after going under the knife during a four hour operation on Thursday. He tells us that the hospital food was OK but that he couldn’t find the mini-bar! He is still feeling rather sore and reckons that it will be a little while before he will be able to continue his efforts to dismantle Caliban‘s springs.

Keith continues his work on making cylinder covers for Wootton Hall and is expecting Ian Massey back this next Friday and Saturday to do more work on the Hall’s tender frames.

Fred tries to make the TV workFinally, in the mess room, Fred brought in an inside aerial to try out on the TV but was unable to get much of a picture with it. It looks as if we will have to invest in a proper outdoor aerial sometime.


Wednesday 4th April 2018

The blog has been significantly delayed this week by a combination of factors, including the need to crew steam engines and the school holidays which place demands on writing time!

However, work has continued apace at Preston on the RSR’s TPO coach, the cosmetic restoration of which is now well down the home straight. John and Tim have now applied three coats of paint to the body sides and the lining should be finished by the end of this week. The TPO coach ready for lining paintThe photo shows the coach in Royal Mail red masked up ready to receive the yellow stripes along the lower panels. As can be seen from the shining bogies, Fred, Roger and John Davis have also been hard at work down below. It is planned that the vinyl Travelling Post Office lettering will be applied to the body sides next Wednesday, after which a finishing coat of varnish is scheduled for the Friday. It shouldn’t be too long after that before the coach is transferred into the museum.

Howard with a stubborn spring hangerAde and Howard have finally managed to release the first of Caliban‘s spring hangers, where the steel pins are proving to be well and truly seized up. Howard is seen here attempting to remove the second of the spring hangers. Howard is also looking to call in reinforcements as chief dismantler Adrian is due to go under the knife in Preston Royal Infirmary tomorrow so will be on light duties for a while after that. Good luck Ade!

Newly acquired second hand clack valve for Wootton HallKeith continues to be on the look out for components for Wootton Hall and has been fortunate to obtain a second hand clack valve courtesy of Andy Booth. Please see Keith if you would like to contribute to the purchase of this or the two new snifting valve castings which were mentioned in last week’s blog.The new snifting valve castings for Wootton Hall

A new top cylinder cover plate on Wootton HallKeith has also been fabricating two plates to cover the cylinders on Wootton Hall, one of which is seen in position here.

Finally, Alan and Alison braved the cold and wet weather to go over to Locomotion, Shildon, last weekend. Alison raised some more funds whilst Alan looked after FR 20 on its penultimate set of steamings at Locomotion this year. The loco is provisionally due to leave Shildon for Preston on the 9th May.


Monday 26th March 2018

Gothenburg departing with the first train on Saturday, 24th MarchAs mentioned in last week’s blog, the Ribble Steam Railway’s Spring Steam Gala took place on Saturday and Sunday with four locomotives in operation, including visiting Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0T Gothenburg from the East Lancashire Railway which is seen here departing from Riverside station with the first train on Saturday.

Ready to go. The buffet car waiting for its first tripThe Gala marked the introduction into service of the FRT’s former RMB buffet car No. 1812, which was placed in the centre of the three coach rake, and very smart it looked. Draught beer has been re-installed to the bar and Brent is seen here drawing off the first drink of the day.Brent draws the first drink of the day

The FRT’s sales stand at the Gala was augmented by the rolling stock from the late John Houghton’s railway layout, which the FRT is selling and will benefit from the proceeds. Alan sorting out the locos for sale

The overhaul of the RSR’s TPO coach bodywork is now reaching its final stages and a coat of red undercoat was applied on Friday. John painting the TPO coach on SaturdayJohn Dixon is pictured here in the process of applying gloss paint on Saturday and it is planned to put on another gloss coat on Wednesday, so a dust curfew is required in the shed for that day. John Davis, Fred and Roger have been continuing their task of painting the frames and bogies and are nearly at an end with this part of the project. Paul Balshaw has been attending to the missing rubbing plates on one of the corridor connections.

Howard and Adrian have continued the task of dismantling the spring hangers and supporting pins from Caliban, it being a slow process as split pins are removed piece by piece!

Keith has picked up two brand new brass snifting valve castings from a foundry in Blackburn for Wootton Hall, and is looking for sponsors of these – they cost 84 each.

We have had news that the new tubes for 5643 are currently being cut and swaged in readiness for transporting to Embsay at the end of the week. Andy Booth is programming in some time shortly after Easter to fit them.

Finally, Alan and Alison are off to Locomotion at Shildon again this next weekend for FR 20’s Easter steamings, although Alison will be at Preston on Good Friday with some of the unsold OO gauge model rolling stock whilst Alan is driving. We hope that the forecast ‘mini-beast from the east’ (wot, another one?!) won’t cause the A66 to be closed once again!

Monday 19th March 2018

It might have been yet another cold wind blowing outside our shed this week, however, within the relatively snugness of a well insulated and heated environment we have seen more progress this week on the three main projects.

John Dixon painting the corridor end of the TPO coachWork has now commenced in earnest on the painting of the RSR’s TPO coach, and John Dixon is seen here painting the corridor ends. The corridor ends going blackNow that this has been achieved, it is planned to start painting the body sides next Friday. Paul Newton and John Davis at work painting the TPO coachDown below, John Davis, Paul Newton, Fred and Roger have been continuing their work in painting the frames, headstocks and bogies. Fred painting one of the TPO headstocksRoger sees red with bogie springsPaul Balshaw also made a start on cleaning up the interior of the coach now that the filling and sanding has finished.

Alan and Howard at work on Caliban's axleboxesAde, Howard and Alan have been stripping the axleboxes on Caliban, although this has been a slow process as it is many years since they have been apart. Ade contemplating under Caliban

Ian Massey was back on Friday to continue his work on welding a new section to Wootton Hall‘s tender frames. Ian Massey at work on Wootton Hall's tender framesIt is planned that he will return again shortly to complete the job. The latest weld completedThe work is taking a little longer than anticipated owing to some distortion that occurred during the original welding and the need to adopt a different technique to prevent a recurrence.

The mess room is becoming better equipped as a result of the clearing of the late John Houghton’s kitchen, the contents of which have been made available to the Trust. Derek has kindly donated some pictures which are starting to go up on the walls.

Next weekend, the 24th and 25th March, will see the rolling stock from John Houghton’s model railway being put up for sale. A reminder here that FRT members will be allowed first pick from 09.00 on the Saturday morning. Videos, books and vinyls for saleA large selection of books, videos and vinyl LPs, seen here stacked in the mess room, will also be available for sale.

Groundworks outside the shedOutside our shed, work has started on preparing the ground ready for tarmac to be put down, probably this next week. This is in advance of the new children’s play area which will be created between the FRT shed and the museum.

FR 20 in the snow at ShildonAlan looked at the weather forecast and decided to delegate the role of owner’s representative for FR 20 at this weekend’s steamings at Locomotion to member Brian Goodfellow, who lives locally to Shildon. After a cold night at ShildonThis was a sensible decision as Alan was due to play at a St. Patrick’s Day gig with our folk band Live Steam at Cark on Saturday evening and, in the event, the local mountain rescue teams had to turn out to rescue people from the A66 on Saturday night!

Monday 12th March 2018

Breaking news this week is that the mess room has now been commissioned, the keynote moment being the transfer last Wednesday morning of the kettle and tea bags from the shed into our new accommodation for members. Keith had wired up the hot water system so John Dixon and Tim then set about re-arranging the tables, chairs, desk and filing cabinet into their new positions, setting up the oven and microwave, as well as selecting those tables which could go into store for use with the sales stand. With the permission of the executor of the late John Houghton’s estate, the FRT has been allowed to clear some household items from Garstang and some cooking pans and a camp bed have been installed in the mess room. These will be followed this next week by cups, plates and cutlery as well as the store of tinned food from John’s cupboards. We are setting up a mess room fund into which donations can be made for tea bags, coffee, milk and the food.

Back to the work place, there has been a continuing push to get the RSR’s TPO coach ready for painting, with Tim John, Dixon, John Davis, Paul Balshaw, Paul Newton, Mike, Fred and Roger all lending a hand. It is hoped to start painting the corridor ends this week before the rather larger task of painting the sides begins. The role of supervisor is obviously very pressured!Mike can be seen here offering suitable supervisory advice to John Davis from the comfort of his chair as John paints a bogie.

Ade and Howard have been making steady progress with Caliban, managing to remove all the pins which were holding the axlebox keeps in place.

Keith has also been making some progress with Wootton Hall and Wednesday saw the arrival of a new clack valve.. New clack valve for Wootton Halland an eccentric rod… Second hand eccentric rod for Wootton HallKeith is asking for expressions of interest to sponsor these items – the clack valve is £400 and the eccentric rod £375 .

With the roads almost clear of snow, Alan and Tim finally made it over to the north east for a meeting on Friday. Alan and Alison have been spending all their spare time this week at John Houghton’s house sorting out his possessions. The items from the train set are being catalogued and Alison is planning to have a sale of the rolling stock during the Ribble Steam Railway’s Steam Gala. A special preview session for FRT members will be held from 09.00 on Saturday, 24th March after which the sale will be open to members of the public. With a bit of luck, it is hoped to have a list of the main items available in time for next week’s blog.

Finally, this next weekend sees Alan and Alison heading over to Shildon for two more steamings with FR 20, with them beating a hasty return to Cark on the Saturday evening for a St. Patrick’s night gig at the Engine Inn with Live Steam.


Monday 5th March 2018

A short update this week.

Attendances at working parties were somewhat reduced owing to the arrival of the so-called “Beast from the East”, which caused travel problems throughout the week.

John Davis, Tim and John Dixon continued work on the RSR’s TPO coach on Wednesday, with both Johns and Paul doing the same on Friday. John Dixon preparing the west end of the TPO coach for paintingJohn Dixon is seen here working on the west corridor end before applying some primer to bare metal.

Alan and Ade continued work on Caliban. Ade attending to the hornstay bolts on CalibanAde is seen here attending to one of the hornstays.

Both Alan and Tim had been due to travel across the Pennines on Wednesday for a meeting, but this was cancelled on Tuesday with the expectation that the A66 snow gates would be down, which they were – for several days! However, Alan and Tim, chauffeured by Ade in the RSR’s pick-up truck, did manage to make a trip to Crewe on Thursday afternoon to bring back some loco parts. There were very cold gale force winds to endure, but the trip was successful.

Saturday saw Alan, Alison and Tim at John Houghton’s house where, at the request of the Executor of John’s estate, they started the sad task of collecting together the rolling stock on his extensive model railway. These items have been put into store and will be made available for purchase, with the FRT benefitting from the proceeds. Please let Alison know if you are interested in purchasing any of these models. Some of Caliban‘s components, which were also at John’s house, have also been removed for storage elsewhere.


Monday 26th February 2018

There was, not surprisingly, a large turnout from the railway community at John Houghton’s funeral on Friday, with not a seat left spare in Preston Crematorium. Faces from past and present gathered to pay their respects and to celebrate John’s life. Most retired to the Wheatsheaf at Garstang afterwards, where there was chance to catch up with each other, recall times past and to look at the many photos which were displayed on screens in the pub whilst eating the food provided. Everyone agreed that it had been a good send off for John, and congratulations go to Richard and Janet Harrison for the splendid arrangements.

Ade holding Caliban's frames in placeBack at Preston, John’s beloved Caliban was jacked further up into the stratosphere on Wednesday by Ade and Howard to allow the axleboxes to be examined. Caliban's frames jacked upDismantling them is proving to be a painstaking job as the pins have been exposed to the elements and not been touched for many a year, making the grease they were coated with extremely hard. Alan sprays some release oil on to an axleboxHowever, after the application of some release oil by Alan, Howard pursued the task on Saturday and reckoned that he was starting to see some movement in the pins, but there is some way to go yet!Howard enjoying his work inside Caliban's frames

With the all clear given by our boiler surveyor, the specification for 5643’s tubes has been agreed with Andy Booth and sent to a tube manufacturer for a quote. As some of you will be aware, Keith has been under the weather over the last week or so and is having some time off to recover; we wish him well. However, George went across to Embsay on Saturday and he tells us that, as well as demolishing a tasty meal of fish and chips cooked in lard, he also cleaned up the faces and studs on 5643’s safety valve assembly.

Work on the RSR’s TPO coach continued apace on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and the end is in sight for the long task of making good the bodywork. John Davis and Mike Rigg painting one of the TPO bogiesThe north side bogies have now been cleaned up, primed and are now receiving undercoat.

More work took place on Fluff on Saturday with Anthony Jolly in attendance. It is hoped to be able to lift out the engine in the coming weeks.

John has all but finished his work in the mess room and, with the TPO bodywork nearly finished, should perhaps be ready to join in the task of painting the vehicle, which should commence shortly. Outside the mess room, it is expected that tarmac will be laid in March as a prelude to the creation of the children’s play area.

Matt Bedford moves the restored signal post towards the MuseumFinally for this week, one of the other tasks that has been undertaken by FRT members is the restoration of a signal post, which has been shot blasted and then painted by David. It is seen here on Saturday being driven by Matt Bedford on its way to the RSR Museum where it was united with a set of signal lights and is now ready to be wired up.The restored signal post united with the lights in the Museum

Monday 19th February 2018

We start this week’s blog with a celebration of Alan Middleton’s 80th birthday this last Saturday. No point in keeping it a secret!Both Alan and Alison were at Locomotion, Shildon, for the first of FR 20’s steamings in 2018. Perhaps, then, Alan shouldn’t have been surprised to find the campervan festooned with balloons and banners proclaiming the fact that he is now an octogenarian – but still of course driving his beloved steam trains! Needless to say, a suitably inscribed cake appeared at his celebratory dinner that evening.Not a campervan tea today then?

In view of this significant event in Alan’s life (yes, Alison thought that we ought to mark the occasion properly!), we concluded that it would be an opportune time to include a ‘blast from the past’ photo along with some others that have provided us with entertainment in past editions of the blog. Younger days, with cigar, at the DFR

A hat to match the chimney

Like my bike?





On location






Happy Birthday, Alan!

We have had news from Embsay that our boiler surveyor has examined 5643’s de-tubed boiler and is happy for Andy Booth to start the process of inserting new small tubes.

Howard watches closely as Ade jacks up CalibanAt Preston, Adrian and Howard spent Wednesday jacking up Caliban‘s frames with the aim of being able to release the wheels.

Andy Morton sanding the TPO coachWork has proceeded with the body overhaul of the RSR’s TPO coach with lots more filling and sanding taking place. Paul Balshaw made his second appearance (yes, it seems that he is keen to continue with us) and worked alongside Mike and John Davis who were cleaning up the corridor ends and the north side bogies. John Davis cleans up a TPO coach bogieRoger once again continued his painting mission on the frames.

John Dixon measure up the cupboard bottom fascia boardJohn Dixon tells us that he has almost finished fitting out the mess room, having made progress with boxing in the water pipes and with the cabinet skirting panels, and should shortly be ready to end his winter hibernation in there.

Tim and the RSR’s Mike Bailey met our joint solicitor, Richard Greenwood, in the mess room on Thursday to further the finalisation of the sub-lease for the shed. On other matters of administration, David has completed the 2017 accounts and presented them to Tim to finalise for the Independent Examiner. Mike has been examining the new General Data Protection Regulations and how they will affect the FRT when they come into force on the 25th May – a draft action plan has been drawn up.

Finally, a reminder that John Houghton’s funeral will take place at Preston Crematorium this Friday at 12.15.