Monday 17th May 2021

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

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

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

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

Monday 10th May 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 3rd May 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 26th April 2021

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

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

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

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

Monday 19th April 2021

A short update this week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 12th April 2021

John Dixon constructs the formers for the new brick arch in FR 20We are heading towards the casting of a new brick arch for FR 20 with John Dixon now in the final stages of constructing the formers in the confined space of the fire box.

Alan annealing copper steam pipes for FR 20With the injectors now fitted, Alan has been annealing the copper steam pipework that now needs to be connected. Meanwhile Ed has continued his work cleaning up the chimney.

John Davis paints controls in FluffJohn Davis has been painting the controls in Fluff‘s cab.

Fred cleans up the water craneFred has been back in action after the lockdown break and has been cleaning up the former Furness Railway water crane from Foxfield. Needless to say, it didn’t take him long to wear out his first cup wire brush of the year!

New fire box for the water craneMeanwhile Keith has finished fabricating a new fire box for the water crane.

Ade drilling out smokebox rivets on Caliban's boiler

And finally, Ade has continued to drill out out the rivets on Caliban‘s smokebox to allow it to be removed.

Easter Monday 5th April 2021

This last week saw the start of a gradual return to normality with the lifting of the ‘stay at home’ restriction and the welcome reappearance of some of our working members. Paul Balshaw and Fred both popped their heads into the FRT shed to say hello and to apologise for a further delay in their return due to injuries sustained during lockdown – just what had they been doing? However, both Mike Rigg and John Davis appeared on Friday with intent to do some work, although Mike’s time with us in the shed was limited owing to having to be careful after a spell in main works. We hear that Phil is also likely to return shortly after having spent time at home in a caring capacity, but Paul Newton (whose professional career was in health) is currently doing a sterling job in assisting with the vaccination programme – well done, Paul!

So, what have those who are fit and well been up to this week?

Sam and Alan with one of FR 20's injectorsSam and Alan (grandson and granddad) spent time making up joints (steam joints, that is!) and test fitting injectors on FR 20.

Ed rubs down FR 20's chimneyEd has been cleaning and rubbing down FR 20’s chimney.

John Dixon with the formers for Fr 20's new brick archJohn has nearly completed the formers for the construction of FR 20’s new brick arch.

Lined out splasher - wish it would appear right side up!!!Tim has completed the lining out  of FR 20’s splashers, which are now ready for fitting.

John Davis and Mike Rigg measuring up Fluff's engine compartmentThe ending of lock down will make it easier to search for and view a potential replacement engine for Fluff. With this in mind, John Davis and Mike Rigg have been measuring up the dimensions of Fluff‘s engine compartment.

John Davis painting one of Fluff's cab windowsJohn went on to paint Fluff‘s cab windows, a job that has been put on hold for over three months.

Water crane components being restored outside the mess roomFinally, the components of the former Furness Railway water crane from Foxfield have recently been unearthed and placed outside the mess room in order for restoration to take place.

Keith with the new water crane fireboxKeith has been busy making a replacement fire box for the water crane; these were fitted to prevent frost damage in winter.

Monday 29th March 2021

Today, at long last, sees the end of the third lock down “stay at home” message that commenced almost three months ago on the 5th January. We are therefore looking forward to being able to welcome back this week all those working members who feel able to return to working parties in the FRT shed, although of course all the safety measures, including sanitising and social distancing, remain in place.

Alan making new steam joints for FR 20's injectorsAs previously reported, it has been possible to make some progress over the past three months on the priority project of returning Furness Railway No. 20 to steam this summer. It is hoped to start mounting pipework and fittings over the next few weeks and Alan has made a start on making new steam joints for the injectors.

John Dixon constructing the new formwork to enable FR 20's new brick arch to be madeJohn has continued his work in making up formers to enable a new brick arch to be fitted.

Stewart Waugh refitting FR 20's vacuum cylinderThere was a successful effort on Friday morning to lift the lower part of FR 20’s vacuum cylinder back into position after it had been serviced. The lifting table that was purchased last year has certainly proved its worth and Stewart Waugh is seen here fitting the retaining nuts on to the vacuum cylinder.

The refreshed paintwork on FR 20's dome coverTim has again been busy with the paintbrush and the paintwork on the dome cover has been refreshed. We are now ready to lift the cab spectacle plate and the dome cover into place using the Ribble Rail hi-ab when a date can be arranged.

Elsewhere, Ade has again been busy drilling out rivets in Caliban‘s smokebox and Keith has been continuing his work on Wootton Hall.

Monday 22nd March 2021

Whilst numbers of volunteers at Preston have been restricted since the start of the third lockdown, there has nevertheless been some continuing progress on projects in recent times.

Ed trimming a bushEd has been sanding down the interior of FR 20’s cab sides but, with plans for visitors to return to the RSR site in May, he also took to his shears to trim the garden near the FRT shed.

The finished jobThe results of the post winter tidy up can be seen here.

John woodworking to make a new former for FR 20's brick archJohn Dixon has been preparing the wooden formwork required to construct a brick arch in FR 20’s firebox.

One of the new formersOne of the new formers can be seen here.

Alan with new manifold jointAlan made a new joint for FR 20’s main manifold valve last Wednesday.

Alan in FR 20's firebox - but don't tell Alison!!Once Tim had removed the firebars from FR 20’s firebox, Alan fitted two new fusible plugs. He smiled for the camera but asked that we didn’t show the “after” photo to Alison!   Alison will never know that I've been in a firebox(However, we guess that she might have got a clue when she went to her washing  basket….)

Tim's overalls showing signs of being in a bad placeTim also had to take his overalls home for a wash after rolling in spent ash underneath the firebox!

Keith with a new piece of cladding for 4979There has been a recent delivery of rolled steel sheet for Wootton Hall’s cylinder cladding. Keith was busy painting one of the smaller items.

New cladding sheet on Wootton Hall's r/h cylinderThis larger piece, once fitted, fitted transforms the look of one of the cylinders.

FR 20's tender vacuum cylinder in the process of being loweredFriday saw Stewart Waugh make his FRT working party debut to assist in the removal of FR 20’s tender vacuum cylinder for servicing, using the lifting table. The cylinder has now been stripped down, cleaned and reassembled. We just need to lift it back into position on the tender when people are feeling strong!

Monday 8th March 2021

This is another of our intermittent lockdown blogs to keep you in touch with the activities of the Furness Railway Trust.

Firstly, it is heartening to be able to see the end of the ‘stay at home’ lockdown message which is due be revoked on the 29th March. This should, if things don’t change, enable all working members to return if they wish to working parties scheduled for Wednesday, 31st March and Friday, 2nd April.

In the meantime, apart from regular security checks, it has been possible to make some progress in recent weeks on projects which respect the Heritage Railway Association lockdown guidelines, although the lack of larger gatherings of working members has been very much missed by all concerned.

Ed Tatham rubs down FR 20's cab spectacle plateThe main thrust of lockdown work has been on the ongoing ten year overhaul of Furness Railway No. 20, which is scheduled to steam again this summer. The aim is to complete its statutory in-frames steam test as soon possible and the very small gang involved on this project has been making steady progress. Fortunately, the current workload has enabled individual tasks to be carried out with members suitably socially distanced. With a full repaint of the locomotive under way, much of the work has involved rubbing down components and building up the new paint finish. Ed is seen here sanding the cab spectacle plate.

The boiler bands ready for fittingThe boiler bands have been re-painted and lined ready for fitting.

John Dixon refurbishing FR 20's vacuum pipeworkMeanwhile John Dixon has been refurbishing some of the vacuum pipework.

Adrian has been continuing his work on Caliban‘s axlebox lubrication to a point where he says that he is satisfied. He has also re-started the task of drilling out the smokebox rivets. Ade sets up the magnetic drill on Caliban's smokeboxHe is seen here setting up a magnetic drill for the job.

Finally, whilst the restoration of Fluff has regrettably had to be temporarily put to one side during the lockdown, enquiries are still being made to find the locomotive a new engine.