About us
Vintage Train
Live Steam
Crest of the Furness Railway Trust


Registered Charity 1163073

Welcome to the part of the FRT website where you can keep bang up to date with the latest news and goings on! We hope you like it! 

The aim is to report on the latest activities of our locomotives and rolling stock, and what our volunteers are getting up to. A lot of the activity is at our main base at the Ribble Steam Railway where we are working to complete a new shared workshop building, but we are also active wherever our engines and carriages are working! 

The latest blogs and 2017 archives are available here, and the archive of older postings from 2016 and 2015, but this is the archive of older postings from 2014. 

Monday, 29th December 2014

A short end of year blog this week.

Some final shunting has taken place at Preston to position everything in the correct place in road four of the shed and the slew rails have been removed to enable road three to be re-connected and packed. It will then be possible to move the buffet car and North London Railway coach so that the pit steps can be completed along with the painting of the centre of road three. We can then get on with overhauling the buffet car.

The remaining holes have been drilled in Cumbria's smokebox and a final fitting of the boiler awaits the return to health of Alan, who has a couple of jobs to complete on the ashpan. Alan is still suffering from the effects of 'flu and claims to have lost half a stone in weight!

Down in Sussex, 5643 has completed its scheduled steamings on the Bluebell Railway and is being winterised before being despatched up to Preston. This could well happen week commencing 5th January, subject to the availability of the haulier.

There is little left now to do but to thank everyone for their continued help and generosity during 2014. A huge amount of work has been completed during the year, which has seen our new shed take shape and be ready for business. It all sets us up now to be able to tackle a large variety of restoration work in 2015.

Monday, 22nd December 2014

After last week's busy social calendar, things have been somewhat more mundane this week, especially for Santa's Christmas Minstrels (Alan and Tim) who somewhat inconveniently finished up having to tender sick notes for the final weekend of the specials - something about adult male 'flu. Perhaps we will have to teach the sales team to play instruments as it appears that Tom, Vernon, Jen and Alison had a bit more stamina over the weekend!

John and Keith Ray made some more progress with the pit steps last Wednesday through finding and cutting up some more flagstones. Adrian made some more progress with Cumbria's cab fittings, and George was given the job of grinding in the injector steam valves on Saturday. John, Fred and Roger continued work on Cumbria's cab and bunker, with John letting in some new platework on the floor and the bunker.

Some final holes need to be drilled on Cumbria's smokebox this week to enable the fitting of the angle plates whereupon the fitting of the boiler will take place once all the adjustments have been made to the ashpan.

Plans have so far been made for working parties on Tuesday, 23rd, Wednesday, 24th, Saturday, 27th and Wednesday, 31st December, together with Friday, 2nd and Saturday, 3rd January. Other sessions may well be organised depending on commitments.

Thanks to Steve Lee who sent this photo to our Facebook page

5643 has again been performing at the Bluebell Railway this last weekend with some great photographs emerging on the internet including this one sent to our Facebook page by regular Bluebell photter Steve Lee - thanks again Steve! The loco is due to operate its final trains there on Tuesday, 23rd , and Wednesday, 24th December.

It's time now to wish everyone a very happy Christmas and to hope that Santa pays you a visit as expected!

Monday, 15th December 2014

It was a busy social calendar last week, starting with the FRT Christmas Dinner for working volunteers at Baffito's on Monday. Alison had taken over the organisation of it this year and made sure that everyone knew what they had ordered and what they owed. Surprise, surprise, the money taken balanced first time with the bill, for the second year in succession! More importantly, a good time was had by all. The joyful throng is pictured here.

Tuesday saw a smaller than usual gathering for the December Preston Branch meeting at the Ale Emporium, to watch Derek's DVD of the movement of Wootton Hall from Appleby to Preston and main line steam in the north west during 2014.

Work intervened on Wednesday and Friday when John completed the building of the steps at one end of the inspection pit with assistance from Keith Ray, who operated the concrete mixer and supplied the cement. There was further work on Cumbria courtesy of Adrian and the South Lakes Gang. Joe Booth and Dave Hughes have also been busy again painting the cab roof. Meanwhile Cumbria's boiler has been propped up as planned to allow the drilling of the last holes in the smokebox.

Saturday was a busy day all round as Keith had been commandeered to drive the RSR Santa Special, whilst Alan and Tim provided the Christmas music on board. Alison, Jen and Tom  did a valiant job on the sales stand in very cold weather. There was then the gathering in the new shed in the evening to thank sponsors and those who had assisted in its construction and fitting out. Alison provided a splendid buffet which, despite not having been told how many were coming, seemed to be spot on in content, not to mention taste! Alison was claiming that if we didn't like the mince pies, they were from Morrisons(!); the general consensus was that Morrisons must make very good mince pies!  Alan provided the audio visual equipment to give a continually running ten minute show of Tim's photos of the construction of the shed. It was hard to believe just how much had changed and been achieved over the last two years. All in all, a very pleasant evening - perhaps we should have a few more social occasions such as this in future?!

The same crew (except Tim) returned on Sunday to assist with the Santa Specials, which are now fully sold out. There are a further four Santa Special days this next Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before the RSR train set is put to bed for winter.

News from deepest East Sussex is that 5643 successfully operated Santa Specials on the Bluebell Railway on Saturday and Sunday and is scheduled to operate there again this next weekend. There is a photo of the loco on Facebook, festooned with seasonal decorations.

FR 20's calendar for 2015 is now becoming clearer with Locomotion publishing proposed steaming dates through the year. The loco is also off to break new ground (for FR 20, not the FRT...) at Llangollen at the end of May to coincide with '150' celebrations there. Two steamings are planned. 

Joyfully thronging
Joe and Dave hard at work
The sponsors and volunteers gathered for the shed warming

Monday, 8th December 2014

No more concreting yet, but there is still plenty of work for us to do.

Progress on the fenceAnd progress on drilling the new smokebox

Network Rail had a team building day last Monday which made good progress with the erection of the fence alongside our new shed. This work was carried on by Keith Ray, Mike and David on Wednesday, so the fence is now at the half way mark. Given some good weather, this work can be continued over the coming weeks unless, of course, Network Rail needs some more team building!

John continued his work building the steps in the pit underneath the North London Railway coach. This has turned out to be a handy place to be if you want a bit of peace! (John might disagree.) Tim continued cleaning off the RMB roof whilst Adrian spent more time hunting down and cleaning up Cumbria's fittings. Alan has continued his work of art, which is to be the re-incarnated ashpan for Cumbria.

Keith has nearly finished drilling the holes in Cumbria's smokebox and it is planned to raise the boiler up by a few inches next Saturday to allow the final holes to be accessed. After that it will then be possible to have a trial fitting of the ashpan. Meanwhile, jointing material, lagging and paint are in the course of being ordered and delivered to allow the assembly and finishing process to continue in the coming weeks. It is planned to have another working day this Saturday and it is hoped also to arrange further working parties over the Christmas holidays.

Saturday saw the RSR Santa Specials swing into action, with Alan and Tim helping on board and providing music, whilst Alison, Jen and Tom covered the sales stand. And, yes, the weather certainly turned chilly for the event!

Tonight sees a gathering for working volunteers Christmas Dinner, followed tomorrow (Tuesday) by the Preston Branch Meeting at the Ale Emporium, Fylde Road, at 8pm. On Saturday, there is a special "shed warming" event at the new shed for sponsors and also for those who have spent many hours fitting out the shed.

There is good news from the Bluebell Railway in that 5643's vacuum pump has now been re-fitted and tested in action after a major re-build. 5643 is due to re-enter service this next weekend.

And finally, you will be pleased to learn that the next edition of "The Iron Horse" (No. 125) is being printed and should be on its way to members shortly.

Monday, 24th November 2014

Trevor tidying up the excess floor paintNow in grey

A quieter week for us with no concrete to be laid at Preston last week. It was therefore time to do some tidying up so that more floor paint could be applied to new areas of the shed and also to clean off some of the floor paint where its application had been a little bit, err, on the liberal side, shall we say?! Trevor can be seen hard at it with a scraper. Friday saw a rare chance of a visit from Neil to give us a welcome hand with the work.

There was some more progress on Cumbria with pilot holes being drilled to enable the new smokebox to be attached on a permanent basis. Measurements were taken to enable new lagging to be purchased, and Fred continued work on filling and sanding the bunker. RSR's painting team of Joe and Dave have been busy painting Cumbria's cab roof grey.

Looking forward, the new piston rings for 5643's vacuum pump should be delivered today, whereupon it is planned that they will be despatched to the Bluebell Railway on Tuesday for delivery on Wednesday ready for George to re-fit the pump on Thursday, with the assistance of staff from the Bluebell Railway. Thanks go to George for volunteering to take time off work on Thursday.

This coming weekend sees the annual Dickensian Festival at Ulverston. The FRT is not mounting its usual Victorian Railway exhibition this year, but our folk group, Live Steam, will be playing at the Old Friends public house on Saturday evening and on the Theatre Street stage at 4pm on Sunday.

The next Preston Branch meeting will be held at the "Ale Emporium" (formerly the "Bitter Suite"), Fylde Road, Preston at 8pm on Tuesday, 9th December. There will be more steamy videos to watch.

A "Shed Warming" event will be held at 7pm on Saturday 13th December as a thank you to all those who have contributed financially to the new shed or who have helped to lay concrete etc. There will be light refreshments (another busy day for Alison!) and there will be a digital show of the construction of the shed. It is hoped to get the shed looking in pristine condition for the occasion.

Monday, 10th November 2014

The pace of action hasn't slackened off with plenty still going on at Preston!

Creating the final pathway on the western end of the shed.. and the apron outside

Last Wednesday saw yet another lorry load of ready mixed concrete being poured. The first work was concentrated on filling the final pathway on the west end of the new shed, followed by the completion of the apron outside the shutter door. 

The remainder of the concrete then went to the Ribble Rail shed where there is still work to complete now that the track outside the shed has been tidied up. 

It is reckoned that we now only need another couple of loads to complete the job, the first of which is due to arrive this Wednesday. 

The adjacent photograph gives a last look at the FRT's part of the shed before the arrival of rolling stock - such a shot is unlikely to be available again!

A final look at empty FRT roads
On the move...... and over the pit alongside the RMB

The new paint bay was emptied on Thursday to enable the scrap Class 08 diesel shunter to be placed on the shotblasting pad for dismantling. There is now room in the paint bay for Cumbria's cab roof to be painted in readiness for ftting.

On Friday, the RMB was moved into the west end (heated area) of the new shed on road three. 

A significant shunt then took place to release the second class North London Railway coach from the running shed and it was then ferried round to the new shed so that it could also be stabled in front of the buffet car on road three.

The above moves set the scene for the slew of road four to take place on Saturday to enable more FRT stock to be moved into position. This was completed in very creditable time which then allowed "Wootton Hall", the 6-wheeled cell truck and the first class North London Railway coach to be moved on to road four before close of play. 

They are not yet in their final positions as it is intended to paint the concreted area of floor in the four foot on road four over the next few days.

Road 3 slewed to open up Road 4
In she goesIn situ on road 4
Alan Vernon wins the Sitting Down on the Job award this week!

So, things have moved on quickly, and much of it is due to the enthusiasm and assistance of our RSR colleagues who have been keen to help us in moving into our new home. 

There is still plenty to do in the near future: the shed floor (which has already been swept clean by Keith and Matt) needs to be sealed and painted, the North London 'birdcage' brake body needs to be transferred on to its on chassis, and Cumbria's boiler needs to be fitted. The latter is being slotted into Alan Vernon's complex schedule of moves within the workshop; Alan is the subject of this week's 'seat photo' and is seen contemplating the next move!

Alan and Alison have spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Locomotion, Shildon, where FR 20 has completed its last scheduled days in service for 2014. Alan managed to pull a muscle on Friday whilst coughing heavily, so monitored operations from off the footplate - he was too sore to climb up! Anyhow, well done to both of them for braving the November weather in County Durham.

Monday, 3rd November 2014

The movement of rolling (or rather, in one case, obstinately non-rolling) stock from Appleby - plus Cumbria's boiler from Bridgnorth - dominates the happenings this last week.

4979 about to be winched onto the low loader ... and on the low loader ready to depart
Derek and Tim turned up at Appleby on Tuesday at the challenging time of ten to eight in the morning in the vain hope of stopping people parking opposite the station entrance. Unfortunately, all the cars had already been duly parked and the only comfort was that the railman at the station had very kindly taped off part of the car park to ease access for the expected low loaders into the Heritage Centre. Keith, Matt, Alan, Sam and Frank duly arrived and the low loaders turned up just before ten o'clock to begin the tricky task of reversing into the Heritage Centre via the station car park - and, being the professionals that they are, they made it look easy!

After setting up the first ramp, a lorry unit with no less than 660 hp attempted to tow 4979 out of its 7 years of slumber - but to no avail! It was only after the unit had rammed the loco buffer beam via a wooden sleeper strategically held in place that the loco showed a fraction of movement. With more tugs on the chain, the wheels eventually showed signs of submission and then the loco was dragged along the section of track until it reached the ramp, whereupon it was winched aboard. The tender, having seen its mate give in, showed no such prevarication and trotted along the track and up its ramp with no problem at all. 
The gang at Appleby to help load 4979

Both loads set off at around 3.15 pm, being photographed by a gathering crowd of onlookers, some of whom were quite sad to see the loco depart. The loads arrived at Preston just before 6.30 pm and were duly tipped the following morning. A great job done by Simon Reid and his gang.

It was twenty to three when Cumbria's boiler arrived on the back of the huge hi-ab lorry that had been booked to move it up from Bridgnorth. It was carefully offloaded on to a well wagon before the hi-ab set off to Appleby.

As it would then be too dark to attempt to load the North London Railway 'birdcage' brake that evening, it was agreed to convene a working party at Appleby at 07.30 (!) the following morning.

Preparing to lift the birdcage brake Much better weather in Preston!

Although we enjoyed a beautifully clear sky over Orton Scar on Wednesday, Appleby was covered by a sea of white cloud - as one person on BBC Radio Cumbria exclaimed, "I am in Appleby, but I can't see Appleby!" The hi-ab promptly appeared out of the mist at the Heritage Centre and the task of loading the 'birdcage' brake began. The adjacent tree, which has probably stretched out its branches since the body was deposited there, didn't help matters, but with the skill of our driver, Rod, together with our assistance, the coach body was safely lifted on to the back of the wagon. 

John and Tim departed to Preston in readiness for the concrete that was expected at 11 am, leaving Alan, Mike and Jimmy Gardner to assist with the job of strapping down the body.

Both John and Tim just made it in time for the arrival of the concrete, which was laid in the new shed in record time. 

No time to sit down on the job this week

There was barely time for a sandwich before the hi-ab arrived at 12.15 for offloading. This was achieved very quickly and the hi-ab despatched back to Appleby at an impressive 13.33 hrs. And there the efficiency ceased for the day, as the hi-ab got caught up in a traffic jam on the M6 between Kendal and Tebay, following an accident which necessitated the use of the air ambulance. It eventually arrived at Appleby late in the afternoon when Rod was assisted by Alan in retrieving the coach chassis from behind the back of the poly-tunnel. What could have been a tricky job went well, due to Alan having spent some considerable time during his layover at Appleby in freeing off the brakes. The hi-ab then returned to Preston and chassis was unloaded the following morning at 07.30 when John arrived with the keys.

Thanks go to everyone at the RSR for assisting us with the movements, and especially to Jimmy Gardner who (was) volunteered to be our official slingsman and got up at 4 am on Wednesday morning to go to Appleby!

So, back to normal this week with yet another lorry load of concrete ordered for Wednesday at 11 am, which should see the inside of the west end of the new shed completed, along with the apron outside.

There is good news from the Bluebell Railway in that the work to re-bore 5643's vacuum pump has just been completed and, therefore, the new piston can be machined to the new dimensions. We will then need new piston rings to suit.

Alan and Alison are off to Shildon again this weekend where FR20 is due to be in steam on Friday, Saturday and Sunday - these are its last scheduled steamings for 2014, so a working party to winterise the loco is probably imminent. There is good news here in that it has been agreed with Locomotion, Shildon, that FR 20 will continue to be the operational locomotive in residence during 2015.

Sunday, 26th October 2014

Well, there has been plenty of exercise for all our working members this week.

Wednesday saw another lorry load of concrete being poured in the new shed at Preston. It arrived a little later than usual (just after 1 pm), so it was a case of an early lunch and then plenty of muscle to work it off. The concrete was also a little bit wetter than usual, which made it easier to spread, but meant that we had to leave it until after 4 pm to finish off. Despite all this, it doesn't look too bad, and apparently met with John's approval when he appeared on Friday after having two Wednesdays away. Thanks again go to RSR's Ed, Steve, Alan and Dave for assisting us in preparing the track and stone and for operating the dumper truck.

The main focus on Friday was the preparation work at Appleby in readiness for the planned departures next week of 4979 Wootton Hall and the North London Railway 'birdcage' brake and chassis.

Alan, Alison, Fred, Roger, Mike, Keith and Tim all appeared and it took all day to do the necessary work. The 14 superheater elements had to be extracted from the NLR coach and, a pair at a time, transferred to the other end of the site on Fred's roof rack. All sorts of other miscellaneous pipework, and even a ladder, had to be transferred by various means before it was all humped up into the Hall's tender.

Mike claimed that he had been lured up to Appleby on the pretext of doing some minor vegetation clearance behind the NLR coach - he should have learned by now! 

As if that wasn't enough, the members of the Committee had to head off to Cark afterwards for a meeting which progressed forward the draft constitution for the new Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). Neil reckoned that we ought to continue the practice of having a photo in the blog of people sitting down. So here we see Neil, Alan and David studiously examining the paperwork - or did any one of the three actually have their eyes shut at this stage?!

The hard work starts again tomorrow with the transfer of the "Hall" to Preston. Tim and Derek are intending to be at Appleby early on to prevent people parking outside the station yard.

Cumbria's boiler is due to arrive at Preston around midday on Tuesday, after which it is intended to transfer the NLR brake from Appleby to Preston, followed by the chassis on Wednesday. 

A full load of concrete has been ordered for 11 am on Wednesday just to ensure that everyone is kept occupied!

Slowly filling in the jigsaw!
Fred, Alison and Mike wondering what on earth they'd let themselves in for..
Who's asleep?

Monday, 20th October 2014

Yet another lorry load of concrete was poured in the new shed at Preston last Wednesday and, yes, the end is in sight - but not before we pour a bit more!

Road 4 fully concreted in the heated part of the shed Creating the (temporary) slew in the unheated end of road 4
Maurice skimming part of the latest pour of readymix Extending road 2

The progress on laying the floor in the shed has been quite dramatic over the past few weeks and much of it is due to the teamwork involved in laying the track and preparing the crush and run stone base - thanks go to all concerned. More progress was also made in laying the slewed part of road four in the shed, which continued on Saturday along with laying the west extension to road two.

The scene is now set for yet more concrete to be laid and a lorry load has been requested for this next Wednesday. With all this hard work going on, the new chairs in the shed have been very much appreciated - here is a photo of Tom, looking as though he is about to take part in an ice bucket challenge! 

We were delighted to welcome new member, Maurice Lavery, who was soon put to work, seen here skimming the concrete.

Alan finished up being driver for FR 20 at Locomotion, Shildon, on Saturday and was joined by Tim at the 10th Anniversary lunch, which also marked the retirement of George Muirhead, who has been Manager of the Museum since its opening in 2004.

It was an opportunity to meet up with temporary Manager, Michael Boase, and to give Paul Kirkman, Director of the NRM, a footplate ride on FR 20. Michael will also continue in his role of Director of the The North of England Lead Mining Museum at Killhope, Cowshill, near Nenthead.
This week's "Sitting Down on the Job" award goes to Tom

Finally, a Committee Meeting is scheduled for this Friday evening, in order to progress the constitution for the proposed conversion of the Trust into a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Neil has been working away for some time on this and we hope that he manages to guide everyone through the paperwork before they lose concentration (i.e. doze off!)! Perhaps some strong coffee will be required?!

Monday, 13th October 2014

Latest view of the shed interiorMore track laying

Two lorry loads of ready mixed concrete were successfully poured at Preston, on Wednesday and Friday last week, which means that the floor at the western end of the FRT part of the new shed is really beginning to take shape. Another load of concrete has been ordered for this Wednesday, even though John is insisting that his application for a week's leave of absence was submitted in plenty of time. We shall have to see if we can manage without him! Meanwhile, work to extend fully road three of the shed took place immediately after the concrete pour last Friday, so thanks to Ed, Dave and Alan V for moving so quickly to allow the project to move forward.

Somewhere to rest a weary limb?!All the better to see you with!

There has been some comment that the FRT membership fee, which currently includes a weekly concreting workout for working members at Preston, is far better value than any gym membership. Mike has now very thoughtfully brought along some spare chairs so that more members can relax and recover after their exertions - see Mike trying them out in the adjacent photo in this week's "sitting down on the job award" contender. The Bispham Bandits (Tom, Trevor and Alan W) have, however, gone one better in creating a mini grandstand for observers of the concreting operations, also seen here - they will eventually be used as a set of steps.

On the engineering front, there was good news from Bridgnorth last Tuesday in that Cumbria's boiler successfully underwent its out of frames steam test in front of Alan, Tim and the RSA boiler surveyor. Arrangements are currently being finalised to enable it to return home to Preston.

Also on the road last Tuesday were Keith and Matt, who had had to abandon their journey to the Bluebell Railway last Monday due to dire congestion on the M6. They set off again at 06.00 on Tuesday and, after dismantling 5643's vacuum pump, returned home on Wednesday. 

The Bluebell Railway has kindly offered to re-bore the pump whilst Keith obtains a new piston head, rings and cover for it.

Cumbria's boiler passes its out of frames test.  Complete with new brick chimney.
Alan straightening an ashpan door for CumbriaAde showing he can put things back together too

Back in the workshop, Alan has been progressing the re-building of Cumbria's ashpan and Adrian has been cleaning up the injector steam valves. The South Lakes Gang (Fred, Bob and Roger) was in full attendance on Friday and has also been making further progress on Cumbria when not engaged in concreting operations.

The proposed steaming at Shildon last weekend was cancelled on Thursday due to insufficient resources locally, however, FR 20 is booked to be in steam there on Saturday as Locomotion hosts its official Tenth Anniversary Celebrations.

FR 20, incidentally, features in a photo in the latest edition of Steam Railway magazine, taken during the September Steam Gala there. In a similar vein, 5643 featured in the first episode of Granchester on ITV last Monday. The filming took place at the Bluebell Railway (a long way from Cambridgeshire!) earlier this year.

The Furness Model Railway Club's annual exhibition at Barrow last weekend was a good chance to catch up with old friends. It was also an opportunity to see the stunning 5" gauge live steam model of FR 20 which has been built by Tom Jones of Seascale - it is awesome! 

Comes complete with a miniature Tim and Alan

A last call now for the first of this season's Tuesday branch meetings at Preston, which will take place tomorrow evening (Tuesday) at the Ale Emporium (formerly the Bitter Suite), Fylde Road, Preston commencing at 8 pm. There will be videos from Alan Middleton featuring the FRT in 2014. All are welcome.

Monday, 6th October 2014

Great progress has been made on the new shed at Preston this last week. 

Last Wednesday's Gang was augmented by conscripts from the Amber Trains trainees to lift in the second set of 60ft rails on road four of the shed. The track was then packed as necessary and straightened in readiness for crush and run stone to be laid. This was then done later in the week upon the arrival of another couple of loads. 

This work means that we can now start to pour more concrete in the western end of the shed, extending further roads three and two westwards as progress is made. 

With this in mind, TWO loads of concrete are scheduled to arrive this week, one on Wednesday and then another on Friday. Plenty to keep us occupied, although as you will see from the accompanying photograph (below), there are always moments when members find time to be able to sit down on the job..!

Alan and Alison have been busy at Locomotion, Shildon, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday as FR 20 has once more been in action there. It looks as though they will be back up there again this next weekend as there has been a last minute call for the locomotive to be steamed there for the Shildon Model Exhibition, which is to be held at the museum. 

In the meantime, Alan and Tim will be heading down to Bridgnorth tomorrow (Tuesday) for "Cumbria's" out of frames steam test.

Also on the move, heading south tomorrow (they had to turn back today because of severe congestion on the motorway), are Keith and Matt Bedford, who will be investigating 5643's vacuum pump, which appears to have suffered a serious setback with the piston and the spindle apparently having parted company under some force, stripping the threads in the centre of the former and shearing the grub screws. We await their diagnosis.

A reminder that the Furness Model Railway Club is holding its annual exhibition at the Sixth Form College in Ratings Lane, Barrow on Saturday and Sunday. There will be a vintage bus service from the Town Hall and Railway Station every 45 minutes commencing at 10.00.

A second call now for the first of this winter's Preston Branch meetings, which will be held next Tuesday, 14th October, at the former Bitter Suite pub on Fylde Road, Preston, now appropriately re-named the Ale Emporium. Proceedings commence at 8 pm with videos from Alan Middleton.  






Ready, Steady...
Straightened and levelled!
These backbreaking jobs..

Monday, 29th September 2014

We start off this week with great news that Cumbria's boiler has been steamed successfully at Bridgnorth in advance of the formal test with the boiler surveyor, which is scheduled for Tuesday, 7th October. The repaired boiler will then be transported back to Preston as soon as arrangements can be made. Meanwhile, further progress has been made by John on repairs to the bunker, and Keith and Adrian have been repairing the steam valves. 

The gang assembles to move the second of the two rails on Wednesday An unusually clear shed allows a good view of road 4 coming together

All the sleepers have now been laid in road four of the new shed at Preston and last Wednesday's task was to level off and pack the sleepers and then to lay the first pair of sixty foot long rails. The latter task proved to be a significant challenge as they had to be dragged out of hibernation amongst the bushes outside the shed by the dumper truck. Whilst the dumper was able to move them into the shed, it was then down to brute strength to turn them through ninety degrees and drop then into the rail chairs. The latter was achieved through a great team effort and it was possible then to key up the track before heading home. On Friday, Keith and Tim came in to do the final adjustments to level off the rail head to finished floor level and to take out a slight kink with the aid of the jacks. The aim next Wednesday is to lay the second set of rails, which will take the track through to the eastern section of the shed. All possible hands be needed to move the rails, so make sure that you have had your full complement of Weetabix before turning up!

Once these rails have been laid and levelled, and the necessary crush and run stone laid, it will then be possible to start the task of concreting road four and then extending and concreting in roads two and three. So, plenty of work there to keep us occupied as we head into the Autumn months.

In the running shed, the Blackpool Gang has been busy cleaning off the muck on one end of the North London Railway coach, which had been deposited there by "Vulcan" during the RSR Steam Gala - Tom had a few words (wonder what they were?!) to say to Adrian, who was driving "Vulcan" on the Sunday of the Gala! On Friday, Tom and Alan Wolstencroft were in the new shed repairing a four wheeled trolley which Bill Ashcroft has kindly donated to the Trust. Bill was at Preston on Wednesday to give us a hand with the track - good to see you again, Bill!

5643 was back in steam again last Thursday at the Bluebell Railway, with up to seven coaches in tow as a result of some party traffic that day, earning a fair bit of priase on social media as a result. 

Tom working on the trolley as Keith and Alan look on

Next Friday, Saturday and Sunday sees FR 20 back in steam at Shildon, when Alan and Alison will once again be heading over the hill to be in attendance. 

Talking of dates for your diary, Keith has confirmed that the next Preston Branch meeting will take place at the Bitter Suite, Fylde Road, Preston, at 8pm on Tuesday, 14th October. It should feature some video from Alan Middleton.

Tuesday, 22nd September 2014

A somewhat shorter blog this week.

The first of the sleepers in road four of the new shed were offloaded on to the newly levelled ballast last Wednesday to the rough shape of the forthcoming slew. The sleeper bearing vehicles were due to be shunted into a different order on road three on Thursday so that the offloading could continue. Once the sleepers have been laid it is intended to fit the rails and then pack the track. The latest plan is that the concreting will start in the west end of the shed and be completed before the line is slewed to enable rail vehicles to be stored on road four. This may all change again as there is plenty of time for plans three, four, five and six to the put forward and adopted before we start slewing!

In the running shed there was more work on Cumbria's frames in anticipation of the arrival of the boiler in the not too distant future. One of the jobs that was completed was the renewal of a number of lubrication trimmings by Tim, including the fitment of modified trimmings in the eccentrics in order to try and avoid them being ejected from the lubrication holes as the locomotive goes about its daily chores. Time will tell as to whether this new design will be a success.

5643 was working on the Bluebell Railway last week as the remainder of its contracted number of steamings are used up. 

Dead ringer for a FR loco!The A team on retail!

Up at Shildon over the last weekend, Locomotion held its tenth Autumn Steam Gala, which featured Tanfield Railway's 0-4-0ST No. 2, o-6-0WT "Bellerophon" (1874) and Kitson 0-6-0T A5 of 1883, which was built for the Consett Iron and Steel Company. The latter was turned out in what could only be described as an immaculate Furness Railway livery and was, therefore, unsurprisingly paired with FR20 for topping and tailing the service on the demonstration line on the Sunday. Peter and Dickon travelled across from Cumbria on the Sunday to join Alan and Tim and a very pleasant time was had by all on a bright autumnal day.  Alison was there also to staff the sales stand and had some additional assistance at times.

Tuesday, 15th September 2014

Cumbria undergoing hydraulic boiler testingBuffer beam and buffers back on

Good news from the Severn Valley Railway's Bridgnorth boilershop today is that Cumbria's repaired boiler underwent a satisfactory hydraulic test in the presence of Terry Powell, the RSA boiler surveyor, who gave his blessing to move the boiler on to the next stage, which is an out of frames "in steam" test. All being well, this should take place some time next week.

Work on Cumbria's chassis has meanwhile continued at Preston with the milestone task of refitting the bufferbeam and buffers being undertaken last Wednesday. A big step forward, so well done to all concerned. 

Also well on the way is the re-built (or should we say "new") ashpan, which Alan is fabricating in the workshop.

Cumbria's new ashpan
Preparing for Road 4The RMB on Road 3 of the shed
The task of clearing excess soil and laying fresh crush and run and ballast on what will become road four in the new shed has moved ahead quickly, courtesy of Alan Vernon and Dave Manley. Dave has now gone on a much deserved holiday and we hope that the loose wheel on his dumper truck will be repaired before he returns!
Rolling stock has been moved around to enable concrete sleepers to be unloaded from a lowmac, and the buffet car is now on road three for the immediate future.
Not mentioned last week was the expedition into the undergrowth outside the running shed to unearth a four-wheeled P. Way trolley which could be useful in moving things around the shed once the rails are down.
The "new" - well, newly rediscovered! - trolley!
The RSR Autumn Steam Gala appeared to be a success and featured three scheduled runs each day of the FRTs newly refreshed North London Railway coach. Such was the public's interest in the vehicle that the last train on Sunday was unable to cope with the crowds and so Tim (on "Courageous") and Adrian (on "Vulcan") quickly agreed to run a 17.20 relief service. Alan and Keith were also on the driver's roster over the weekend and all agreed that it had been a very enjoyable occasion. Just a pity that "Vulcan" managed to spread some very mucky water over one end of the NLR coach -  looks as if some polish will be required on Wednesday!
And we mustn't forget the efforts of Alison and Tom on our sales stand - they have attended both days of each of the events over the last two weekends, so a big "thank you" to both of them.
"Vulcan" with the North London coach

5643 was back in steam on the Bluebell Railway today and video of it leaving Horsted Keynes can been seen here.

Next on the agenda (after this week's working parties) is Locomotion's Tenth Anniversary Autumn Steam Gala at Shildon which takes place this next weekend. FR 20 is rostered to be on static "in steam" display on Saturday and then operating on the demonstration line on Sunday 10.00-12.00 and 14.00-17.00 with Kitson No. 6.

Tuesday, 8th September 2014

John finishing the "four foot" infill on road 3.The storage area

It was another day of concreting at Preston last Wednesday with the storage area and most of the "four foot" on road three being completed in the shed as well as some addition to the outside apron with the remainder of the concrete. It all looked very smart after the shuttering was removed on Friday.

The next move is to start laying track in road four, which will involve a slew at the east end to ensure that it connects up satisfactorily. In preparation for this, Alan Vernon and Dave Manley have been excavating the track bed ready for layers of 'crush and run' stone and ballast to be put down. Once the track has been laid, it is the intention to lay as much concrete as possible on road four before bringing in rolling stock that is not expected to have to move in a while. Then road three will be re-connected. As you will see from this, some time has been spent this week in doing a bit of planning. Let's hope that we have spotted all the pitfalls!

In the running shed, the Blackpool Gang (or is it the Bispham bandits?) has ceased operations on the refresh of the North London Railway coach and cleared it out in readiness for use during the RSR Autumn Steam Gala on 13th and 14th September. The draft timetable shows it running on three trips each day.

No concreting is envisaged for the next couple of Wednesdays, so our Chief Civil Engineer has taken the opportunity to take some time off in the Scottish Border Country - a very well deserved break! In the meantime for the rest of us, attention will no doubt be turned to assisting Ed with the track laying.

Locomotion at Shildon celebrates its tenth anniversary on Saturday, 18th October. In recognition of this, FR 20 will be in steam and offering train rides to the public. This is an additional steaming.

Tuesday, 2nd September 2014

Fences R UsThe Wednesday Gang at Preston last week demonstrated new talents by erecting two palisade panels of the new boundary fence in readiness for a full scale onslaught on the job by external 'volunteers' on a team building exercise. Inside the shed, John commenced building the pit steps, an exercise which will keep him occupied for a little bit longer.

This Wednesday (tomorrow) we are due to receive yet another load of concrete in order to work our way a little further down between the rails in road three, complete the storage area, and extend the outside apron with what is left. So bring your wellies again!

Work has started on the construction of the new smokebox for "Cumbria" at the Bridgnorth boilershop, so another step nearer we guess.

FR 20 was in steam for the local Methodists at Shildon on Sunday (courtesy of FRT members Steve Kowal, Dickon Chaplin-Brice and Peter van Zeller), so the apparent longstanding link between steam locomotives and the church continues, it would seem. Meanwhile, Tim was hard at work at a sound desk in Fleetwood all weekend raising funds for the Trust at the last ever Fylde Folk Festival; this has been a source of income to the Trust for the past seventeen years. A committee has now been formed to launch a new Folk and Roots Festival in the area in 2015, but it remains to be seen whether the Trust will be called upon to provide sound for it.

Wednesday 27th August 2014

Building the compressor baseLaying more pathway

Yet another lorry load of concrete was laid at Preston last Wednesday. Once the base for the compressor outside the shed had been completed, the rest of the pour was concentrated on the aisle between roads two and three in the shed. With the RMB temporarily moved out of the way for the occasion, a pretty good finish was achieved.

The school holidays meant that one of our younger members (Owen Jnr.) was on hand to learn all about laying concrete. It caused a chuckle when John questioned who had been making sand castles with his building sand. Whilst everyone thought they knew the answer, Keith Brewer eventually confessed that the final castle left standing was his!

Work has continued on the North London Railway coach in readiness for potential use at the September Steam Gala. The door window bars have been re-fitted along with the drop lights, and a new glass light bowl has been fitted in one of the compartments. Replacement destination boards, recalling the coach's former use on West Cumberland workman's trains, have also been prepared. Work has also continued on Cumbria, where it is hoped to see the return of the boiler soon.

FR 20 was busy at Locomotion, Shildon, over the weekend, being in steam there on three days. Tim joined Alan and Alison on Sunday, and, along with Alan, was treated to one of Alison's full English breakfasts the following morning. A great start to a very pleasant day on the footplate! 

FR 20 is back in steam again this next Sunday, when Peter van Zeller will be going across as FRT rep. The booked driver, Steve Kowal, is also one of our members. Alan and Tim will be otherwise engaged that weekend working at the last ever Fylde Folk Festival.

So was this Keith's sandcastle?!

Monday, 18th August 2014

It's been a whole fortnight since the last blog, mainly due to the fact that the members of the blogging team have either been on holiday or tied up with other urgent administrative matters! However, that does not mean that operations have come to a halt elsewhere.

On the contrary, 5643 has been under the scrutiny of our resident GWR Locomotive Doctor, Keith Brewer who set off to the Bluebell Railway last Tuesday in an endeavour to find out why the loco had suddenly lost power and been stopped (or should we say, ground to a halt) for attention. The final diagnosis, after a bit of open heart surgery to the valves, was that the left hand valve had been letting steam past its rings owing to looseness caused by the disintegration of the associated shims - and the right had valve was beginning to show similar characteristics. The good news is that Keith managed to undertake repairs to the valves at the Bluebell Railway and 5643 ran a satisfactory test train betweenSheffield Park and Horsted Keynes on Friday. Well done Keith!! 5643 will now undergo a boiler washout this week before being returned to service.

Back at Preston, the lights are now working in the pit - see the adjacent photo for proof. It wasn't possible to order any concrete for this last Wednesday, but we definitely have some ordered for this coming Wednesday, so please bring along those wellies if you fancy wading around in the ready mix. A further supply of sand and cement arrived last Friday to enable various finishing jobs in the shed, including the pit steps, to be completed. A large supply of post mix also appeared which will enable the new boundary fence alongside the shed to be erected.

Alan made the somewhat arduous trip to Bridgnorth (anyone know of an easy way to get there from Preston, avoiding long queues on the M6?) to deliver items for Cumbria's boiler in readiness for a forthcoming hydraulic test. We are expecting water to go into the boiler any time now. In anticipation of this, more steelwork has arrived at Preston in order that the re-build of the ashpan can be completed.

FR 20 is back in steam at Locomotion, Shildon, this weekend and Alan and Alison are heading off that way, via a stopover at the Wensleydale Railway on Wednesday to allow Alan to re-acquaint himself with the line on the end of a regulator. With the Shildon crewing roster looking a little thin over the Bank Holiday, Tim is joining them over the weekend to assist on the footplate - just like old times!

We conclude by having to record the sad and sudden passing of Peter Robinson of Grange-over-Sands. Peter was a founder member and President of the Cumbrian Railways Association and, as a great campaigner for railways, was heavily involved in the battle to save the Settle and Carlisle line. His funeral today was attended by many from the north west railway fraternity, including representatives from Transpennine Express; he will be missed by all who knew him.

Let there be light! (And let there not be greasy marks all over the new white paint!)

Monday, 4th August 2014

A short update this week.

Lay more track, so we can resume the concreting obsession creating a path alongside it..! Looking very smart with its new coat of white paint, and lights going in..

The shuttering used for concreting various areas in the new shed the previous week was removed last Wednesday and the track on road three (the pit road) has been extended by around 45 ft. It is intended to level and pack this piece of track this next Wednesday so that further concreting can take place the following Wednesday.

The new inspection pit has been painted, and light fittings, er, fitted. Work has also begun on building the steps into it. We plan to forage for further spare flagstones in the yard this Wednesday. We have now run out of cement, so a further order will be made once the extent of our ongoing requirements has been assessed.

Elsewhere, news from Bridgnorth is that tubes are being fitted into Cumbria's boiler and Alan is intending to head down to the Severn Valley Railway next Monday with the various fittings required to enable both hydraulic and steam tests to be conducted. Meanwhile, John had the satisfaction of reinstating the handbrake, which is a pleasant change from taking things apart!

Alan has been busy at the Bluebell Railway, where he has tightened up the right hand big end on 5643. The loco had just completed 22 days of continuous service and was in need of a washout. However, due to the failure of the 'U' Class, 5643 was hurriedly pressed back into service on Friday after a water change, but unfortunately failed on Sunday with loss of power. The latter issue will be investigated by Keith, who is planning to make the journey south again next Monday. 

Friday, 25th July 2014

A quick update before we hit the holiday season.

Tamping the section of concrete pathThe finished section

There was a successful pour of concrete inside the new shed at Preston on Wednesday when we were able to provide a seal under one of the shutter doors and then work our way back down an aisle alongside the RMB. It had been planned to move the RMB out of the way, but the Ribble Rail lads were held up by the late running bitumen train. We managed to make the best of it by using a pinch bar to move the coach a little way up and down the shed. Unfortunately, with this delay and the heat of the day, we struggled get a perfect surface finish, but it's not bad.

News from Bridgnorth is that Cumbria's copper tubeplate and foundation ring are now fitted along with the new sling stays. The remaining throatplate and side stays have been manufactured and await to be fitted along with the new tubes. We have supplied details of the thickness of the flanges on the backhead fittings so that appropriate length studs can be fitted. Completion is moving ever closer.

5643 has been working regularly at the Bluebell Railway over the last couple of weeks and has now been taken out of service for a washout. Alan and Alison are heading down there next week to give the old nag some TLC and, no doubt, have the odd trip or two up and down the line.

No concreting next week as some more track needs to be laid inside the shed. Both Wareings and Avalon Doors have been working on the shed this week and the new doors at the far end of our part of the shed have now been fitted - there's another job for Keith to wire them up!
One of the two end doors fitted

Monday, 21st July 2014

The apron gets wider and wider...!Result! The first train onto our pit (albeit briefly!).

We were back to pouring concrete again at Preston last Wednesday, with the shotblasting apron outside the shed being considerably enlarged by our efforts. Inside the shed, the first vehicle (a 20 tons brake van) was run over our new pit in order to compact the track leading on to it. This seemed to be an easier option than jacking up the pit by one centimetre! Anyhow, work on shuttering off various areas by the pit has taken place and so we have ordered yet another load of concrete for this next Wednesday - bring your wellies!

The process of fitting the shutter doors to the far end of our shed commenced on Friday after various discussions as to the height that the bottom of the shutter should reach. Checks were also made to ensure satisfactory clearance for certain locomotives with tall chimneys!

Keith is well on with finishing the additional electrical work in the paintshop and was aiming to trial fit the newly machined valves for "Cumbria", whilst Fred continued his efforts to remove paint from the bunker. 

Tom started to re-fit various bits of brasswork on the North London Railway coach whilst Tim re-varnished some areas which had blistered due to the heat whilst it was originally being applied.

Alan and Alison had a successful weekend at Locomotion, Shildon, where FR 20 ran on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Alan has also delivered the copy of The Iron Horse to the printers. 

Photographs posted on the internet from the deep south suggest that 5643 is being used on a regular basis on the Bluebell Railway at the moment.

A newly machined valve for Cumbria

Monday, 14th July 2014

The track gang at workMachining a new valve for Cumbria
Varnished! Almost complete..Tom polishing the brasswork

There has been more progress this last week in fitting out the new shed. Wareings have now completed their work in building the wall between the new paint shop and the rest of the shed, which now only needs the completion of the cladding around the personnel door between the two areas and the fitting of the door itself. Keith has therefore been busying himself with fitting more electrical conduit and sockets together with additional lighting where the wall has been erected.

Elsewhere in the shed, plenty of crush and run stone has been laid in readiness for more track laying and concreting and another load of stone has already arrived in time for this Wednesday's working party. A full lorry load of concrete has also been ordered for Wednesday when it is planned to extended the concreted area of the shotblasting  pad outside. Let's hope that the people who are due to fit the new doors don't come at the same time!

The North London Railway coach has now been varnished, although there are still one or two areas that need further attention to keep John and Tim satisfied with the finished job! It will then be possible to re-fit the brass handles and also paint the drop lights.

Work again has continued on Cumbria, courtesy of the South Lakes Gang. Bill Norcross has been busy machining the new bronze valves for us in the workshop. Alan has also been busy on his refurbishment (re-build is probably a better term to use) of the ashpan.

5643 has been back in service on the Bluebell Railway after the recent replacement of the piston rings. There have been positive comments made on the internet about the increased efficiency of the locomotive after the repairs, and some good photos posted to our Facebook page: this one at Imberhorne, and this one at New Road Bridge

FR 20 is back in steam at Shildon again this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with Alan and Alison once again making the trip over the hill to supervise and, no doubt, raise some cash with the sales stand. Alan, incidentally, has also been busy putting to bed the next edition of our magazine, The Iron Horse, which it is hoped will be despatched to the print shop later this week.

Monday, 7th July 2014

The main news of the week has been the achievement of the repair to 5643 at the Bluebell Railway carried out by Keith and Matt. Considering that they only set off to Sheffield Park last Tuesday, they did well to fit new piston rings and then refit the pistons in time for a successful return light engine test run to Horsted Keynes on Thursday. 

The work was clearly successful, as we've had a great photo of 5643 steaming under Leamland Bridge posted onto our Facebook page by Steve Lee taken on Saturday (5th July).

Progress on the new pit at Preston reached another milestone when the rails were connected to the rest of road three. Yes, there is a slight kink in the trackwork at the moment, but this will be cured by a slew of the track - we decided not to risk John's wrath by asking him to move the pit by a couple of inches! And, to put the record straight, the pit is actually central to the door, as we might expect with John at the helm! 

It's quite a thought that our new pit is now connected via the Ribble Steam Railway directly to the rest of the national rail network, and thus Europe and even Moscow and Siberia - not that we are anticipating having any arrivals for repair from that direction - just yet!

Inside the running shed, the South Lakes Gang made more progress on removing paint from Cumbria's bunker and John did some much-needed welding. 

Further progress has also been made on the re-painting of the North London Railway coach ready for its RSR WW1 commemoration later this summer.  The first of the "second class" markings has been applied. It is hoped to start putting on the varnish later this week.

Alan and Alison had a productive weekend at Locomotion, Shildon, where FR 20 operated on Saturday and Sunday. It is in steam again in another couple of weeks.

All the way through to Vladivostok...
The first door ready to varnish

Monday 30th June 2014

Last week we reported that 5643 was awaiting attention at Sheffield Park having suffered a suspected piston ring problem. Keith and Matt duly set off last Monday and found 5643 conveniently parked over the pit ready for their inspection. By the end of Tuesday they had dismantled the left hand side to confirm that the loco had, indeed broken a piston ring and then duly set about dismantling the right hand side. Fortunately, neither bore has been scored, but it was decided that it would be useful to change all the rings. Although the Bluebell Railway found up a set, they were unfortunately found to be the wrong size, so Keith and Matt set off back home on Thursday afternoon, having taken the opportunity to touch up some of the paint and shine up the brasswork. Four new rings are being manufactured by John Marrow as this blog is being written and Keith and Matt plan to head back south on Tuesday to fit them and to get the loco back in one piece ready for a steam test. Well done to them both!

A shiny North London coach with more painting to comeWe have a pit!
Backfilling the north side of our pitThe steel to create the twin outer doors to our shed

Back at Preston, more progress was made on re-painting and keying paintwork on the North London Railway coach and further work is planned over three days this week.

In the new shed, the north wall of the new pit was backfilled with only the east end to be backfilled once Keith has today fitted pipes and conduit to enable the new air and electric systems to be completed in the pit.

Meanwhile Wareings have started on the steelwork to create the twin outer doors at the  eastern end of the shed, and also to wall off the paint shop bay.

Fred and John were busy at work on Friday making the sparks fly repairing Cumbria’s bunker and Bob was making progress with Wootton Hall’s regulator box. Keith also discovered that, contrary to earlier worries, he had in fact fitted the piston glands in the correct fashion, and has re-fitted them! The new bronze valves have been delivered and will be machined once a drawing has been located.

News from Bridgnorth last Thursday was that it was hoped to complete the riveting of the new copper tubeplate by the end of last week. Half of the doorplate rivets had also been fitted and, once these jobs have been completed, it will be possible to fit the foundation ring. The throatplate stays are ready to be fitted and also the tubes once the other jobs have been finished.

Next weekend sees more working parties at Preston on Wednesday and Friday – and Alan and Alison heading back over the hill to Shildon for FR 20 steamings at Locomotion’s Toy Fair.

Monday, 16th June 2014

It's Monday evening and we're back at the keyboard again. Where does time go? Well, looking back over the past seven days, we seem to have fitted in quite a fair bit of work.

In goes the concrete...The top, rail bearing surface must be flat
The second wall left to set, with substantial bracing!Job done! A happy John with Keith
The leftovers were used to extend the shotblasting areaA flattering shot of the Chairman...

The lorry load of concrete for the north wall of the pit duly arrived late Wednesday morning, but unfortunately the Amber Trains trainees were all over the hill at Leeds. So it was a case of conscripting as many people as possible on a hot day to take turns with the fleet of four wheelbarrows to transport the concrete from the lorry to the pit. We were assisted by the RSR full time staff and, in the end, it was a good team effort that saw the job over and done with in just over the hour. The relatively small amount of left over concrete was used to extend the apron outside for the shotblasting area. After lunch, the scaffold boards and trestles were removed from the pit area and the area tidied up to enable John to put the finishing touches to the top of the concrete.

The shuttering was duly removed and cleaned up on Friday and the laying of rail on the north wall commenced. Work continued today on cutting rail to size and drilling bolt holes for the fishplates.

Meanwhile, Wareings have commenced work in screening off the paint bay from the rest of the workshop and they have opened up a doorway for rail vehicles to enter the paintshop from the Railfeight building. Wareings will also carry out work to enable twin doors to be fitted at the far east end of the FRT part of the building.

Work has also continued on Cumbria, and the North London Railway coach now sports its first complete gloss coat of paint. We still await news from Bridgnorth as to progress on Cumbria's boiler.

We received a message from the Bluebell Railway last week to say that they suspected that there were issues to be resolved with some of 5643's piston rings. Keith duly set of with Matt Bedford today to travel to Sheffield Park to examine the front end of the locomotive and to ascertain what repairs may be necessary. We await further information via Matt's mobile phone, although the signal at Sheffield Park is rather iffy if we remember correctly.

So, another action packed week, and we guess that that is why the weeks roll by so quickly!

Monday, 16th June 2014

The astonishingly large volume of work being carried out by our volunteers has continued this week unabated.

Work to shutter the north side, and use concrete sleepers to act as braces Backfilling the southern side
The first section of rail is in...Keith tightening up the rail fixings

John made the decision that he definitely wanted to get the north wall of the new pit concreted this next Wednesday and has been going hell for leather to complete the shuttering with his saw, drill, screwdrivers and hammer. Assistance has been rendered where required by Mike, Chris, and Keith Ray, particularly in pinning in place a number of concrete sleepers which will act as securing points for the wood braces which will (hopefully) stop the shuttering bulging under the weight of the concrete. Meanwhile, the first piece of flat bottomed rail has been lifted in and bolted down by Keith on top of the south wall of the pit and the wall back filled with spoil using the dumper truck.

This all had to be done relatively quickly because Wareings will be moving in on Wednesday to put up a dividing wall to screen off the adjacent paint bay, so preventing future access by plant to this side of the pit. Also in anticipation of this work, the paint bay itself has been tidied up and Cumbria's cab roof re-positioned to allow enough room for Wareings to work.

For Tim, happiness is a tin of gloss!Sparks fly as Roger Benbow works on Cumbria's bunker

Trevor finally declared that the North London Railway coach was ready to receive its final coats of paint, which kept Tim busy on Wednesday and Friday as the final phase of the coach's "refresh" commenced. More paint was also being applied to Cumbria's wheels, now that Roger is back amongst us, and Fred was literally making the sparks fly as the overhaul of the frames continued.

Alan was back up at Shildon on Thursday, taking with him a replacement vacuum pipe for FR 20 to replace one that had seen better days and had started to leak. FR 20 was in steam on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for Driver Experience and Taster sessions. Tim took over at Saturday lunchtime and saw FR 20 back into the museum this morning. Alan and Alison, incidentally, headed down to Devon first thing on Sunday for a well earned break, no doubt visiting a few heritage railways whilst they are there. What Alan doesn't yet know is that Locomotion has now rostered FR 20 for an extra four days of steaming in August and September -  better break the news gently when they get back!!

So, looking forward, the main event this week will be the pouring of concrete on Wednesday when it might be us wielding the barrows this time! Make sure that you get a good breakfast before coming to Preston!

Monday, 9th June 2014

After the success of concreting the south wall of the new pit, it was back to the more mundane process last Wednesday of cleaning off the shuttering and erecting it alongside the north wall in readiness for the next concreting session. John tells us that, subject to continued good progress this week, we should be able to plan to pour the next concrete on Wednesday, 18th June. It will no doubt be all hands on deck this week to try and achieve that goal.

Meanwhile, progress continues on the refurbishment of "Cumbria" and the North London Railway coach.

Alan has had a busy time up at Shildon, travelling up there last Monday to re-fit the repaired main steam pipe and then back again for the weekend steamings and to re-fit the right hand clack, which Richard Pearson had arranged to have machined for us. Alan tells us that the steam pipe and the clack performed satisfactorily. We are also grateful to Alison for staffing the sales stand there again over the weekend.

FR 20 is in steam once more at Shildon on Friday, Saturday and Sunday this next week for Driver experience sesions, when Alan and Tim will be heading over the hill to assist.

For those of you who were unable to see FR 20 appearing in the film "The Invisible Woman", both DVD and Blu-ray copies of the film will be available from Amazon from 16th June.

Friday, 30th May 2014

A short update and a little earlier than usual because of the holiday season.

The runway is in position, ready for take off!So let's get pouring and tamping!
John floating the poured concreteFinal adjustments after the pour
Two days later and the staging comes off...Ta Dah! Finished! Well on one side at least!

Great progress was made on the new FRT inspection pit on Wednesday when the south side wall received its ready mixed concrete. John had come in on Monday to finish off the shuttering, but then had to eat humble pie at home and come in again on Tuesday as well when the job took a little longer than planned! Tim is now feeling a bit guilty at suggesting it could be ready for Wednesday...! The final task on Wednesday morning was to insert the trestles and staging boards into the centre of the pit to enable wheelbarrows to traverse from one end to the other, tipping out the concrete at the allotted spot on the way.

The hard work of moving the barrows was undertaken by the Amber Trains trainees, who did a great job, with the FRT team ensuring that the concrete was properly compacted and evenly spread along the shuttering.  You can see the bolts that will secure the rails being embedded, which is a change on the bolt-free version produced for the earlier pit for the Ribble Rail part of the shed.

The job took around an hour, with the remnants of the concrete being used to extend the shotblasting apron outside. Overall, a great team effort. 

Today John and Mike undertook the next job today, removing the shuttering. It has now been stacked ready to be installed on the other side of the pit to enable the concrete to be poured on to the north side wall.

The extension to the shotblasting area

We are pleased to be able to report that Alan was successful in removing FR 20's main steam pipe for repair after it sprang that  small leak over the weekend. Alan tells us that it was not the easiest of jobs, but the offending piece of metal has now been taken to Longridge for remedial work to be done. The left hand clack valve has also been removed and left at Shildon for repairs to be carried out in the north east.

Back at Preston, Keith has ordered some hexagonal bar to enable some new bolts for Cumbria's buffer beam to be manufactured in the workshop. Fred has been busy putting gloss red paint on the inside motion and we hope to publish a photo of the completed paintwork in a future blog.

The North London Railway carriage has now moved out of its winter quarters in the workshop, having been put there over Christmas to keep the workers warm - we suppose that it can finally be assumed that Spring has arrived!

Tuesday, 27th May 2014

A quick summary of news this week:

The final view of the pit before the concrete is poured...John nails it

Good progress was made on Wednesday and Friday with preparations for pouring concrete on the south side of the new pit, so a six ton load has been ordered for this Wednesday. John was going back into the shed again for another session to finish the shuttering.

There has been more work on preparing Cumbria so that it can receive its new boiler when ready. We show here a photo of the completed firebox tubeplate, courtesy of Duncan Ballard at Bridgnorth. 

FR 20 has been in steam at Locomotion, Shildon, for three days over the Bank Holiday weekend. The good news is that the repaired right hand cylinder joint behaved itself. The not so good news is that a hole developed at the base of the main steam pipe in the smokebox as early as Saturday morning. Fortunately, the old engine managed to keep it wheels rolling and, with the help of some of Alan's magic replacement metal, did better than expected on the Monday. 

However, as these words were being written on Monday evening, Alan was in the process of removing nuts in a very hot smokebox so that the pipe can be brought home for repair. The fireman's side clack valve is also being removed tomorrow so that its faces can be freshened up.

Cumbria's completed firebox tubeplate

Monday, 19th May 2014

There has been plenty going on again this week.

The Wednesday Gang was kept busy cleaning up the new staging boards and also receiving the new trestles. Some finishing touches were made to the base finish of the North London Railway coach, and Adrian and Keith made more progress with Cumbria. Talking of which, down at Bridgnorth, the new copper firebox tubeplate has been completed and was due to be fitted this last week. Then it will be possible to re-fit the foundation ring.

Before the concrete arrived...In it goes....
Levelling off...Final skim...

The delivery of six cubic metres of ready mixed concrete was delayed until after 3 pm because of other calls on the lorry. Even when it arrived it looked as if the dumper truck was having a sulk and refused to start. Wheelbarrows were hastily lined up but, in the nick of time, the dumper truck engine fired up into life - this was necessary to transport some of the concrete up to the other end of the shed to form the base for the new door pillar. The rest of the concrete was delivered direct on to the new base of the shot blasting pad with the helpful assistance of the lorry crew. It was therefore heading towards 5 pm before the job was finished. Meanwhile, Alan and Matt had disappeared off to Longridge on a mission to bend the new bottom plate of Cumbria's ashpan.

There were two working parties on Friday. The usual Preston gathering continued on with work on Cumbria and the NLR coach, and also released the wood inserts from inside the rails on the shotblasting pad, now that the concrete had set; we understand that the latter was a much easier task this time!

FR20's right rear cylinder cover, offAlan effecting the repair

Meanwhile, Alan and Tim headed off to Shildon on Friday to replace the rear right hand cylinder cover joint on FR 20. This entailed propping up the little end and then stripping down the slide bars before finally being able to un-seize the cylinder cover nuts. The cylinder cover was then coaxed away from the cylinder itself along the piston rod, giving room to clean off the old joint and make up a new one. Putting the cylinder cover back on to the studs almost caused the bursting of a few blood vessels, but it was finally moved close enough to get the vital first nut screwed on a couple of threads. The slide bars were replaced and the work was completed at three minutes to five as the diesel shunter was being started up to move FR 20 back into the museum. "The work plan was obviously perfectly timed," commented Richard Pearson, Workshop and Operations Manager at Locomotion. This was met with some disagreement from Alan and Tim as they hadn't had time for a lunch break and had only had one cup of tea since starting work at 10 o'clock!

No concrete this next Wednesday as the gang will be preparing the shuttering for the first load of pit concrete, hopefully for the following week. Alan and Alison will be heading off to Shildon for three FR 20 steamings over the Bank Holiday weekend. Two additional steamings there have also been booked, for the 7th and 8th June.

Monday, 12th May 2014

Keith Ray goes to work on the staging...... while John sets to, to provide an edge for the new apron concrete to key onto

With no more concrete blocks to lay last Wednesday, it was time to turn our attention to other matters. As reported last week, we had taken delivery of some second-hand staging boards, so some time was spent in pairing them up (no, they weren't all exactly the same) and then cleaning and marking them. David and Tim went down to TP Berry's site at Leyland to marvel at the fantastic selection of Builders' Merchants items on display. Fortunately, they didn't come back with more than they went for and only succeeded in putting ten new trestles on David's plastic. These should be delivered to us on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, John set about ensuring that the next batch of concrete for the new shot blasting apron will key correctly to the existing concrete floor in the paint shop. When we had laid that concrete some weeks ago, someone had made the helpful(?) suggestion we should finish off the edge as a ramp for vehicles to enter the paint shop. However, this ramp now had to be chiselled away. Once some grooves had been cut, there was nothing else we could do but attack the concrete with hammers and cold chisels. And, yes, a number of cases of 'hammer rash' were reported! What was considered to be an hour's job occupied John and Tim all afternoon, so don't expect a new ramp to be made at the edge of this week's concrete, which is scheduled to be laid on Wednesday.

In the workshop, Alan has been cutting new steel for Cumbria's rebuilt ashpan and the rest of the gang have been progressing the necessary jobs to prepare it to receive its repaired boiler in due course. More work was also done on preparing the North London Railway coach for its gloss coats of paint.

Ade cleaning up pipework for Cumbria

Monday, 5th May 2014

The completed blockwork for the pitOur new staging; first use will be to bridge the pit to allow concrete to be poured

The tenth and last course of blocks were laid on the walls of the new FRT inspection pit last week. Preparations were also made for the laying of concrete on what will become the shotblasting apron outside the paint shop. The new (well, second hand actually) staging boards arrived as scheduled last Wednesday, ready for use initially when we have to tip concrete into the side walls of the pit. In the meantime, the next job will be to excavate footings for the centre column of the new doors at the east end of the FRT shed  - the concrete for the apron has, therefore, been delayed until next week so that some of it can be used for these footings. It is intended that Wareings will then arrange for the new doors to be fitted. Once this is done and the pit completed, it should be possible to lay track in both roads of the shed, although a slew to shunt into road four will be necessary until land is formally made available to lay the necessary pointwork.

Drilling the new firebox tubeplateNew smokebox rivets

More progress has been made on "Cumbria", with buffer beam bolts being cleaned up in readiness for the buffer beam to be re-fitted. Around 15 new bolts will have to be manufactured to replace those too badly damaged during the tortuous removal process. George's new copper for the brake pipe has arrived and was annealed on Sunday. We show a couple of photos of the work on the boiler which have been sent to us courtesy of Duncan Ballard of the SVR.

Alan and Alison spent the weekend at Locomotion, Shildon with FR 20, which was in steam for the Spring Steam Gala, sharing passenger duties with  GNR 'N2' No. 1722. Alison looked after the sales stand and managed to raise some more much needed money for our projects. 

5643 has also been in steam on the Bluebell Railway this weekend and some interesting video footage is available on Youtube taken by a drone helicopter fitted with a camera

Monday, 28th April 2014

Cutting the blocks for the conduits The finished job
Conduit and socket in place in one of the recesses (no wiring yet though!) The transition fishplates have arrived ready for when rails go over the top of the new pit!

Electric conduit was fitted into the walls of the new FRT pit at Preston last Wednesday in readiness for the final course of blocks to be laid this coming Wednesday. The transition fishplates for the flat bottom rail to go over the pit have also arrived.

Outside the building, shuttering was positioned around the track leading out of the paint bay in order that it can be concreted over in readiness for its role as a shot-blasting area. The first batch of concrete for this part of the project is expected to arrive a week on Wednesday. The first batch of concrete to form the south side wall of our pit is provisionally expected to be ordered for Wednesday, 21st May. Having considered the various options for delivering the concrete from the lorry and then pouring it between the block wall and the shuttering, it was decided to order some second hand staging boards to enable wheelbarrows to operate over the top of the pit. These boards, which are due to arrive at Preston on Wednesday, will then be of use in providing access for future restoration work.

Barring Cumbria to check clearances - well done Matt!Fred at work on the inner side of the cab roof

Further progress was made on re-assembling Cumbria on both Wednesday and Friday, courtesy of the efforts of Keith, Adrian, Matt and George. With the connecting rods now in place, the loco was slowly moved up and down with a pinch bar by Matt on Friday to check clearances. Meanwhile, Fred continued to clean off the inside of the cab roof, now that it has been re-positioned, and Roger has been applying undercoat to the wheels. Bob has finished his work on Cumbria's regulator and has now started on Wootton Hall's regulator. We didn't manage to get a photo of Bob working on this, but in response to his comment that his photo hadn't been in the blog in recent weeks, we have included one of him below looking at plans of the "Hall" on his computer with the familiar cup of tea in his hand. Computers seem to be becoming a familiar sight at our working parties, reflecting the modern age that we live in. George spent quite some time on his computer and mobile 'phone trying to chase down some 11/16" OD copper pipe for Cumbria's steam brake, but had to accept a suggestion from the Mid Hants Railway that it would be more realistic these days to work with 3/4"OD pipe with a thicker wall. We show a photo of George underneath Cumbria's eccentrics - no computer here! An ingot of soft white metal has arrived at Preston so that new gland packings for Cumbria can be cast.

Bob reviewing the man drawings he's pulled together for Wootton HallGeorge in motion. Geddit?!

Latest news from Bridgnorth received today is that the new piece of copper has been welded into the crown of the inner firebox and a visit from the local RSA surveyor to inspect it has been booked for Wednesday. There are now just twenty holes to be drilled in the new firebox copper tubeplate after which it will be possible to fit it in place. The new smokebox wrapper is due to arrive this week, which will just leave the new sling stays to be manufactured to complete the components necessary to complete the re-building of the boiler. It is now estimated that the boiler will be ready for its hydraulic test in mid June.

FR 20 will be in steam at Locomotion, Shildon, next Sunday and Monday, sharing passenger service duties over Locomotion's Spring Steam Gala with GNR 'N2' No. 1722. The GNR 'Single' No. 1 (display only) will be paired up with its new tender for the Gala. Alan and Alison will be making their way up to the north east on our behalf for the event.

Meanwhile, 5643 is back in action at the Bluebell across the Bank Holiday weekend, being first loco off shed on Saturday and Sunday, and the second loco on Monday.

Wednesday 23rd April 2014

More great progress on our inspection pitCylinders, done!

Block laying for the new pit continued unabated last week on Wednesday and Friday and the ninth course out of ten has been completed. There will be a short interregnum whilst the conduit for the electrical sockets and lighting are sorted out before the final course of blocks is laid.

Cumbria's front cylinder covers are now secured into position and some white metal for some new gland packings is scheduled to arrive today. As Fred has completed cleaning the paint off the outside of the cab roof in the new paint bay, it has now been repositioned so that he can attack the insides. 

And Tom and Trevor have again made more progress on the North London Railway coach - they have already used up five litres of red undercoat -  and the results are well worth the effort!

Alan and Alison have spent the Easter weekend at Locomotion overseeing FR 20's three steamings there. Alan informs us that there will have to be a working party after the May Day Bank Holiday steamings to replace the rear right hand cylinder cover joint, which is currently weeping a small amount of steam.

The rest of Live Steam's regular performers (Tim, George, Martin and Peter) made an appearance at the Sunday afternoon Gig in the Garden at the Old Friends public house in Ulverston. Not a fund raising gig this time as the reward was free drinks!

Back at Preston, those who travel to the RSR by public transport will be interested to know that the No. 75 bus is now re-routed back down Chain Caul Way; it leaves Preston Railway station at 19 minutes past the hour and the end of Chain Caul Road (in the Preston direction) at 54 minutes past the hour. Please note that, until the current road works on Fishergate are completed, the bus stop outside the station is out of use - instead, turn right out of the station and use the bus stop outside Lush.

Martin poledancing? Or just hiding behind one...

Monday, 14th April 2014

A shorter update this week.

It was more of the same at Preston last week with good progress on all three projects.

John cutting blocks for the recesses in the pit Now you can see where the lighting recesses will be
The new joints for Cumbria Great progress on the N London coach

The brickies (or blockies?!)  continued to make good progress with the pit and are now two thirds of the way to completing the blockwork, with the courses completed under the lighting recesses. John cut sone blocks for the recesses and one side's set were then placed in position for a test fit.

Meanwhile, Tom, Trevor and Alan were building up the base coat of paint on the North London Railway coach; it has now been fully undercoated, and is now being flatted off before a final base layer is applied. 

And the new joints for Cumbria's steam chest and cylinders have been cut and collected by Matt Gervis, who works nearby in Manchester. Keith will use the old as a pattern for the drilling. Fred has continued to work on Cumbria's cab roof, and the outside is now wirebrushed. Thought is being applied on how to access the inside to rub that down (remember it's only the roof, and a short portion of cab side/spectacle plate, currently sat in the new paint bay on the RSR side of the shed so headroom is minimal inside)!?

Elsewhere at Preston, Bob was taking advantage of the kind offer of storage space in the RSR Museum and was busy collating drawings for "Wootton Hall".

Alan and Alison were at Shildon on Thursday for FR 20's steaming for two corporate events. Alan tells us that there was actually only need to complete one trip along the demonstration line, so that was one of the easier events to cater for. Alan and Alison are back up at Shildon for the Easter weekend where FR 20 will be undertaking Driver Experience sessions on the Saturday and then operating a public service on the demonstration line on Sunday and Monday.

Monday, 7th April 2014

Alan, Martin and Tim met up at Locomotion, Shildon, last Tuesday to re-fit FR 20's ashpan, grate, plugs, mudhole doors, safety valves and pressure gauge in readiness for its annual steam test. And there was good news from Shildon on Friday afternoon when Alan and Martin guided FR 20 successfully through its test for the RSA surveyor, which means that there should now be a 14 month boiler ticket on its way in the post. Alan will be back up at Shildon again this week for a steaming there for two corporate events on Thursday.

John, Mike and Bradley in action The completed security cage around the heating equipment

There was massive progress on the new FRT pit at Preston when John, Mike and Bradley met on both Wednesday and Friday to take block laying past the half way point. A total of 325 blocks have been laid in this pit to date. More grafting is planned for this week. Whilst on the subject of civil engineering, the new security cage for the heating system has also been completed - well done to all concerned.

More progress has also been made on the refresh of the North London Railway coach and with the overhaul of "Cumbria". We are now awaiting receipt of the new cylinder and steam chest joints for "Cumbria" to enable further items to be re-assembled.

5643 hauls the premier train on the Bluebell Railway

Sunday, 30th March saw 5643 in steam on the Bluebell Railway's prestigious Golden Arrow dining train (thanks Chris Beaumont for the shot) - we are pretty sure that this must have been the first time that the Golden Arrow (in any form) has been hauled by a GWR 56XX locomotive!

As previously advised by email to those on the blog circulation list, the Preston Branch meeting tomorrow evening has been cancelled and the next meeting will be in October when we hope the meeting room will be ready for us.

Monday, 31st March 2014

Three blocklayers hard at work! Concreting in the base of the new fence around the heating equipment

Block laying in the new pit reached new heights (literally) last Wednesday when the brickie team rose to three, with John, Bradley and Mike all hard at work. One and a half courses of blocks were laid during the day and that kept Keith Ray busy with the concrete mixer. There was also time to concrete in the new fencing around the heating system outside the shed.

There was further progress on Cumbria, with the adjacent photograph showing Keith watching on as Adrian tightens up the right hand slide bar nuts. New gaskets for the cylinder and steam chest covers are on order. Fred has been cleaning off the cab roof paintwork in the new paint bay and Roger has been making progress on the wheels. 

Meanwhile, Tom and  Trevor have been fastidiously filling, sanding and painting the various blemishes found on the North London coach's exterior after the application of the first base coat of paint. A new set of number 2s has been ordered for the doors from a local graphics firm with a unit in Chain Caul Road. 

Ade and Keith refitting the slide bars on Cumbria

Finally for this week, Alan had a productive day at Shildon on Friday when the boiler surveyor professed himself happy with FR 20 after the cold exam. Alan, Tim and Martin will be convening at Shildon tomorrow (Tuesday) to re-fit the ashpan, plugs and safety valves in readiness for a steam test on Friday. An extra steaming for the loco has been confirmed for Thursday, 10th April for two corporate events at Locomotion.

Monday, 24th March 2014

On the way Job done!
New copper crown insert Tubeplate

There have been some great strides forward in our projects this week.

Both of Cumbria's new pistons have been fitted into the cylinders, which is a key milestone in the re-assembly during the overhaul and repairs. 

We have also received some photos of progress on the boiler at Bridgnorth where there has been considerable work undertaken on the new steel firebox backplate and the copper firebox tubeplate, as well as the new copper insert into the crown.

The Blackpool team of Tom and Trevor Bradshaw have been applying the first base coat of crimson paint to the exterior of the North London Railway coach now that the initial sanding phase has been completed. 

Trevor reckons that there is still some way to go before he will be happy with the finish and gloss painting can commence.

The first course of bricks has been laid in the new FRT pit and it certainly looks very long! John reckons that he laid 54 blocks on Friday, which nearly finished him off! But he was determined that members attending the AGM should be able to see the first course of blocks, which would then give them some idea of the scale of the project. 

John says that, in compensation, he will be having next Friday off to do some work on Cumbria's bunker! 

Steel backplate
John lays the first block And on he goes...!

The AGM turned out to be quite an intimate affair as the RSR cafe had been requisitioned for a training session for the new menu. We therefore all squeezed into the RSR board room upstairs  - well nearly all, as the last two arriving had to listen in at the doorway! Anyhow, the attendance of 21 was a record in recent years and made Tim wonder if a coup was about to take place! However, after the various reports had been given to the meeting, the usual suspects were re-elected as committee members after being nominated by Vernon, who took the trouble to express his thanks to them for their hard work over the past year. The meeting then finished without more ado and it was then a pleasure to be able to give visiting members the opportunity to view progress on the North London coach, Cumbria and the new shed.

Alan taking out a washout plug on 20's backhead Anyone for a swim?!

Talking of 'the usual suspects', Alan, Fred, John and Tim assembled at Locomotion, Shildon today at 09.30 to take FR 20 to bits ready for its annual cold boiler inspection. Fred and Tim once again vied for the 'dirtiest face' competition after cleaning out the smokebox and firebox respectively - Fred is in danger of winning the award outright on a permanent basis if he isn't careful. There was also the usual attempt to drain the swimming pool under the loco after the boiler had been emptied, and then all returned home over Stainmore in glorious sunshine in the knowledge that another dirty and wet day had successfully been concluded. We now await the appointment with the boiler inspector.

Down at the Bluebell Railway, 5643 double-headed trains with the Flour Mill's GWR 'Prairie' L150 on Saturday and Sunday during the celebrations of the 1st anniversary of the re-opening of the line to East Grinstead. Bluebell driver Ben Gillam very kindly posted this comment on our Facebook page: "Just had the pleasure of driving 5643 for the day at the Bluebell and I must say what an impressive engine. Mechanically very good and the regulator is a joy (apart from shacking it's self closed) Well done to all in it restoration and maintenance."

Monday, 17th March 2014

The main event this last week was the concreting of the base for the inspection pit in the new FRT shed.

There was an ad hoc working party on Tuesday during which the batons were affixed to the concrete reinforcement mesh to mark the expected level that the concrete was to reach. It was then necessary to construct two chutes, one at each end of the pit, down which the dumper truck could despatch the ready mixed concrete into the pit. With a base forty feet long, it was necessary to arrange access at each end of the pit. This latter job required some imagination on John's part as we gathered together the remainder of the wood that had not already been utilised for the shuttering. It really was a bit of a 'Blue Peter' job, even including the sticky backed plastic (gaffer tape) to seal the joints.

The chutes in position........ and in it goes
We like paddlingThis paddling is so much fun
John floats the surface then leaves it to set...And then two days later the shuttering came off

With the shed cleared of obstacles at each end and Dave Manley on the dumper truck, the operation went perfectly. Fortunately, we had plenty of help to spread the concrete, which was just as well as wading around in it proved to be extremely energy sapping, especially in the surprisingly warm weather that day! After a very intensive an hour and a quarter's work the job was done and all we could do was to lock up the shed and let the concrete set.

Friday saw another gathering in order to dismantle the chutes and to remove the low formwork from around three sides of the base. This was all cleaned off before the concrete had had chance to harden fully. Next Wednesday will see the team return to scabble (roughen up) the surface of the base where the walls are to be constructed - this helps the wall to bond to the base. It is then intended to confirm the measurements of the base and to lay at least one course of blocks to mark it out.

Fred starts work on Cumbria's cabThe first new paint goes onto the N London Coach

In addition to the above activities, there has been more progress on "Cumbria" and the North London coach. Fred started preparing Cumbria's cab roof for a repaint, while Tom and Trevor have applied the first new paint on the NLR coach having spent a day vacuuming it, as promised in last week's blog! 

Elsewhere, Alan and Alison have been at Shildon this last weekend with FR 20's first steamings of 2014 during Locomotion's 'Model Mania' weekend. It appears that it was rather quieter than the 'Great Goodbye' a few weeks ago!

5643 made an unscheduled entry into service on the Bluebell Railway yesterday, deputising for the 'Prairie' L150 which failed on Saturday. Next weekend, 22nd and 23rd March, sees 5643 making its first official public steamings at the Bluebell Railway, which will have trains double-headed and seven locomotives in steam to celebrate the first anniversary of re-opening to East Grinstead.

A reminder now that the FRT's AGM will be held at the Ribble Steam Railway at Preston next Saturday (22nd) at 2pm, which will also offer members the opportunity to inspect the new shed and progress on constructing the pit.

Monday, 10th March 2014

Yet another busy week has gone by. We keep on saying it, but it's true!

Tuesday saw Alan and Tim meet up with Martin at Shildon to de-winterise FR 20 in readiness for its scheduled steamings this coming weekend, 15th and 16th March. It had been hoped to get the annual boiler exam out of the way, but unfortunately the call to say that a boiler inspector was available was only received on Wednesday, once we had returned from Shildon after having filled the loco with water! We will have another go at preparing the loco after next weekend.

Bill Norcross hard at workPistons on the rods ready for fitting

On Wednesday, there was a big step forward with Cumbria when Bill Norcross took on the machining of the piston heads in the RSR workshops. Many thanks, Bill. By the end of the following day, the piston heads and rods had been united ready for fitting. The new rings are hanging up in the background.

Tom and Trevor, with new RSR helper Alan, worked hard on the North London Railway coach  on both Wednesday and Friday to virtually complete the repair and sanding down of the exterior. They are planning to bring in a vacuum cleaner next week to remove all the dust.

In goes the concrete for the paint shop bay, levelling as we goConcrete skiing!
The finished paint shop floorKeith Ray and Mike Rigg trying to extract the shuttering from the concrete

Last Wednesday was also the day when a full lorry load of ready mixed concrete arrived to concrete in the track in the RSR paint bay in the new shed. The concrete just about managed to extend the whole length of the bay and provided a challenge trying to smooth it off without falling in!  Concrete skiin, anyone?!

There was a lengthy battle on Friday to remove the shuttering wood which had been tied against the rail to allow a space for wheel flanges. Unfortunately, some of the wood had fallen under the lip of the rail head and proved very stubborn against efforts to remove it. After a break for lunch to renew energies, the battle was finally won, but not before a considerable amount of chiselling, levering and cutting with a 9" angle grinder. 

Resplendent - inside Cumbria's framesRoger Benbow painting the rear of Cumbria's buffer beam

Friday also saw the presence of the South Lakes Gang, who have made splendid progress on painting Cumbria's frames, both inside and out. There was a further working party on Saturday, when Keith, George and Matt made good progress on re-fitting Cumbria's slide bars. The left hand photo here shows the excellent finish on the frames, with the slide bar work in the background! Meanwhile Tim and young Matthew spent some time "wombling", as the RSR chaps call it - picking up litter, scrap wood and metal from the shed and surrounding area.

All in all, there must have been around 30 volunteer days put in at Preston last week - an excellent effort by all concerned.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) sees an additional working party to prepare chutes to enable concrete to be deposited into the new FRT pit base on Wednesday, when another lorry load of ready mixed concrete is due to appear.

As mentioned previously, FR 20 is in steam this next weekend when Alan and Alison will be heading over to Shildon. 

Monday, 3rd March 2014

Things are becoming a little clearer on how we will undertake our next significant task on the new FRT pit, which is to lay the concrete base. John had been scratching his head as to how we were going to access the far end of the pit with the ready mixed concrete from the lorry. However, the new paint bay in the RSR side of the shed has been cleared and a concrete base will be laid in that area on Wednesday. This will allow the partition to the Railfreight shed to be taken down, and will also allow access for the dumper truck to unload concrete into the further reaches of our pit. The latter operation is now scheduled to take place the following Wednesday.

There were some concerns as to whether the rail in the paint bay had settled on to the sleepers correctly, and required to be sorted before we laid the concrete. Fortunately, this gave the Amber Trains trainees the opportunity to re-pack the sleepers and use their rail lifting tackle to re-seat the rails (see below left). All in all, a good team effort.

Amber Rail jackin' n packin' John was *fairly* sure this was the right place to cut..

In the meantime, the FRT Wednesday Gang has cut, bent and fitted the concrete mesh into the pit and the remainder of the materials have now arrived.

In it goes... Another stage complete

Elsewhere at Preston, further progress has been made with both "Cumbria" and the North London Railway coach. The shout for more paint from the Friday Gang suggests that there has been considerable progress on painting "Cumbria's" frames, and the window bars on the NLR coach have been removed in readiness for painting.

A working party at Shildon is planned for tomorrow to de-winterise FR 2o in readiness for the next scheduled steamings on 15th and 16th March. 

The 22nd March will see the FRT's AGM take place at Preston and, in anticipation of this, the Committee met in Blackpool last Tuesday evening to review the Annual Accounts and to approve the draft Trustees' Annual Report. Remarkably, despite the sixteen items on the agenda, the meeting was concluded by 10.15 pm! 

Monday, 24th February 2014

Another week gone by and more progress has been made on our projects at Preston.

The shuttering partly into the FRT pit

Another view of the recent progress

The FRT pit is now awaiting the final placement of shuttering this week before the ready mixed concrete arrives, scheduled for Wednesday, 5th March. In the meantime, more materials (concrete blocks, shuttering wood, sand and cement) have been ordered, to arrive this Wednesday. A meeting to move the project forward has identified the need to concrete the base of the RSR paint shop so that the cherry picker can have access to do the necessary work on the walls. So it looks as if we are going to be busy with the wheelbarrows over the next week or so!

Tim working on the North London Railway coach

The completed tail rod bushes for Cumbria

More work continued on both the North London Railway coach and "Cumbria" as we work to move these two projects on towards conclusion. This week sees yet more working parties and also a committee meeting on Tuesday evening. We hope for a pre-midnight finish!

Crowds swarm round Locomotion on Saturday

The various working A4s operated the shuttle services - here's Union of South Africa

Elsewhere, our friends at Locomotion, Shildon, have been almost overrun with visitors to the 'Great Goodbye' this last week. Tim went over on Thursday to lend a hand and Alan returned for the weekend. It would appear that visitor numbers have far exceeded expectations, with local roads and train services strained to the limits. An enhanced Northern Trains service was operated, many made up to four vehicles - but it was reported that trains were still leaving passengers behind. The adjacent photo shows the busy scene at the museum on Saturday, with five of the six A4s on view - No. 9 was operating on the demo line. It is thought that around 120,000 people have visited the 'Great Goodbye' over the last nine days - not bad when you think that big brother NRM at York had around 140,000 visitors over 15 days.

Once everything has died down at Locomotion (all but the two repatriated A4s will have left by Wednesday - No. 9 and "Mallard" left this morning)) it will be time to arrange the annual boiler inspection and associated working parties for FR 20, which has been locked away in the Hackworth shed at the far end of the running line over the last week.

We received this story from long standing member, Jon Wilkinson, who as many will know has had a long held affinity with 'Black 5' 44806 from his days as fireman at the outset of the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway:

"On Saturday, at short notice, I got a day out with the crew of 61264 on the NYMR. It had been a while since I had been out, so a “familiarity trip” would enable me to sign route and traction for driving turns this year. However, the rostered driver, Haworth’s Graham Hartley, elected to fire - to the amusement of fireman, Tracy Parkinson. So I took it to Pickering coupled to a class 24, as a pair of light engines. I then worked a train to Goathland, ran round in the loop and fired it back to Pickering – now with Tracy driving.

Meanwhile, Shedmaster Clive Goult had been preparing a newly-arrived Black Five in the yard at Pickering. While we were running round, he moved it onto our train and we drew alongside to take water. He then shouts, “Come on Jon, we’ve got a job for you!” Needless to say, I didn’t wait to be asked twice…! So, with 61264 as pilot and 44806 as train engine we worked the diner to Grosmont – with Jim Kay working in the kitchen car.

This was 44806's first trip over the line, its first visit to Grosmont and the first time I have driven it for 40 years. With two class fives, we had no trouble maintaining line speed north of Levisham. From Grosmont we then banked the diner to Goathland and returned light engine to Grosmont. Disposal took a while as it is still largely in the condition it left BR & LHR service – with no rocking grate or hopper ashpan. I left it stabled in the running shed, in good company opposite 45428. It seemed to enjoy its run out and spent the evening chatting about it…. Meanwhile Jim and I enjoyed an Indian dinner at Pickering and recalled happy times with a Black Five in the Lake District…!"

Monday, 17th February 2014

In goes the stone....

... then John works off a few grievances!

There was more progress on the FRT pit in our portion of the shed at Preston this week, with the crush and run base stone tipped in courtesy of the JCB and dumper truck, although once it had been levelled out to the correct height, a fair bit of it had to be picked out again as being surplus to requirements! Then it was time for John to compact it before shuttering was loaded into the pit on Friday for a test fit. John is now left with the job working out exactly how much more shuttering wood, concrete blocks, sand and cement will be required to complete the job.

There was more progress too on “Cumbria” with, amongst other things, the new tail rod bushes being machined up and fitted in the valve chest cover. Meanwhile, Tom and Trevor have again been sanding down the paintwork on the North London Railway coach bodywork in preparation for the repaint.

Keith headed off to deepest Sussex last Thursday on a two day trip to assist the Bluebell Railway during the acceptance inspection and testing of 5643. A look at the weather map on Friday morning indicated that Keith was going to have a very wet day, and so it transpired. A photo posted on Facebook around midday confirmed that the loco was lit up, but it would seem that no one was around on a very wet day to take pictures of it hauling the five coaches on a test run to East Grinstead and back.

Saturday and Sunday saw the occasion of the Ribble Steam Railway’s February Steam Gala. The weather on Saturday appeared to put a dampener on the number of visitors, but the bright sunshine on Sunday more than made up for this. Andy Booth’s “Princess” lookalike, “Courageous”, passed its steam test on the Saturday morning and wowed the crowds on its first public appearance since restoration. Barclay “John Howe” emerged back into traffic for the occasion, with Barclay “No. 6” and ‘Austerity’ “Walkden” making up the four-strong fleet. And it was standing room only on the train during the middle of the day on Sunday. There to staff the FRT sales stand were Jen, Tom and Vernon, who raised some very useful money for the Trust, and Ade and Tim took on driving turns on the Sunday. As is usual on these occasions, it was also a chance to be able to meet up with a variety of friends, old and new. Former LRS fireman Jeremy Whitcher came for a ride (see right, with Tim) and promptly joined both the RSR and FRT as a member, promising to give us some assistance in the future. It was also good to catch up with Carl Slater, who now owns “John Howe.”

Over at Shildon, Alan and Alison have been volunteering with the crowd marshalling during the nine day A4 “Great Goodbye” event. We are told that Alan was presented with a birthday cake, glass and a bottle of “Mallard” ale by the volunteers today, along with a rendition of “Happy Birthday”!

This next week will see yet more working parties, with an additional day tomorrow, Tuesday, slotted in as well.

Jeremy Whitcher with Tim on "Walkden"; Andy Booth is on "Courageous"; neither engine is working as this is a return working and Ade was doing all the work at the other end!

Monday, 10th February 2014

5643 on Sheffield Park shed apron - photo credit Nathan Evan Gibson

5643 was successfully moved down to the Bluebell Railway from Loughborough last week, arriving at Sheffield Park at around 11.30 am on Friday morning. This image by Nathan Evan Gibson was posted on the Bluebell's Facebook page and is shared here with his permission. 

The first jobs will be to re-fit the guard irons, adjust the brakes (which had been relaxed to aid with loading) and fish the five springs out of the bunker. It's hoped there will be a gauging run taking place later this week. 

John does the measuring... And in go the pegs!

Meanwhile, back at Preston, work has continued on the new FRT pit. The first task last Wednesday, which went relatively well, was to level out the base, using the tried and tested method of a spirit level and removing the remaining excess sand by shovel. The next job was to mark out with pegs the position of the shuttering for the base. We had learnt from our experience with the RSR pit that it is easier to hammer in the pegs before loading in the base stone. The tricky bit, however, is to ensure that the pegs are in exactly the right place! Complex calculations, furrowed brows and measurements ensued, using the shed support RSJ's as the reference points, having first calculated their distance from the outside of the shuttering. Once the pegs had been hammered home there was no time by then to load in the crush and run base stone, so that is a job for this Wednesday. 

The completed first piston is seen alongside one of the old piston rings The second new piston being machined

More work has continued on "Cumbria" with initial machining of the second piston head, measuring of the amount of re-metalling of the crossheads required and preparations for new valve tail rod bushes taking place. There has also been the usual cleaning, painting and work on repairing the bunker. 

Still in the warmth of the workshop, Tom and Trevor have continued their work on the refresh of the North London Railway coach. A large order of paint arrived from T&R Williamson last Wednesday. A similarly large invoice is furrowing the brow of the Treasurer! This railway heritage business is not cheap!

Those of you receiving Heritage Railway magazine this week will find not one, but two photos of our locomotives. There is a small article on The Invisible Woman film, with a photo of FR 20 plus crew at Sheffield Park, and a shot of 5643 on a freight train at the Great Central Railway Winter Steam Gala.

As many of you should already be aware after receiving an email last week, it has unfortunately been necessary to cancel tomorrow's (Tuesday's) Preston branch meeting at the Bitter Suite pub, Preston, because the room is not yet ready after a change of tenant there.

Monday, 3rd February 2014

There were two more very well attended working parties at Preston last Wednesday and Friday as well as other appearances by members there on other days of the week.

The RSR are now completing their pit - rails have now arrived... The new tank for Cumbria

All the shuttering used on the pit we have already built in the RSR portion of the workshop (see above left) was cleaned off ready for re-use on the pit we are now digging in our half of the building. The FRT pit was extended manually by another three feet and mainly levelled out.  All being well, we should be in a position to lay some crush and run stone as a base for the concrete floor this next Wednesday. In the meantime, the Ribble Rail lads have been busy progressing their pit and have laid some rail and sleepers.

Wednesday also saw a quick visit to Bolton to view the new saddle tank for Cumbria. And a very neat job it looked, too. Arrangements were quickly made to receive the tank at Preston at 11.00 on Friday morning. A crane was hired from Chris Miller, from around he corner from the RSR, and the job duly completed in what can only be described as foul weather - rain and sleet! It was interesting to reminisce with the manager from Chris Miller about the time, just over 40 years ago, when the same firm moved Cumbria from Shoeburyness to Haverthwaite!

Cumbria's repaired valves were returned from IRS Surfacing Technologies, a metal spraying firm in Burscough, on Thursday, and the next job will be to make some new bushes to suit. A variety of other work on Cumbria has also been completed this week by a number of our members to move the project forward.

This could be South Wales...! 5643 on non-gala GCR duty!

Down at the Great Central Railway, 5643 has been in operation on the normal timetabled services on Saturday and Sunday.Thanks to photographer Ellis Jacklin who has kindly shared these images with us. This concludes 5643's short schedule of steamings at the GCR, and the locomotive will now move to the Bluebell Railway to spend 2014 there on hire.

With the London release of the film "The Invisible Woman" about Charles Dickens and his secret mistress due to take place on Friday, there is more about the filming that took place with FR 20 back in 2012 for this film on our website. A central part of the film is Dickens' involvement in the fatal Staplehurst train crash of 1865; FR 20 was hired in to haul the recreation of the fated Boat Train. You can also visit our Twitter or Facebook for links to videos and further material.

Home | About us | FR20 | 5643 | "Wootton Hall" | "Cumbria" | Vintage Train | Museum | Gifts | Live Steam | Links

İFurness Railway Trust

Furness Railway Trust Weekly Blog 2014 Archive