Tuesday 3rd May 2022

Some of the FRT team have been away on a trip south so the blog is a day late this week.

Firstly, we mentioned in last week’s blog that the Trust’s GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643 was being lit up last Thursday for a test run at the East Lancashire Railway following adjustments to the length of its eccentric rods. Keith has reported back that the adjustments have been a success and that the locomotive performed well as a result of this work. Well done to those concerned.

FR 20 with the BRC's vintage carriages.Furness Railway 0-4-0 No. 20 set off from Preston last Wednesday morning for a trip south to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre for the Spring Steam Gala there. Alan and Alison departed the following day, Tim on Friday morning and then Ade early on Saturday morning, all staying at the Premier Inn at Aylesbury. Alan spent Friday with our long term friend Frank Boait ensuring that the locomotive was back in one piece after the re-fitting of the sand pipes and guard irons and then Saturday saw steam being raised on FR 20 and the usual fitness to run examination. There was then time to shunt the three vintage carriages to be used and to take some photographs in the sunshine.

The Ffos-y-Fran ovoids in FR 20's tenderOne of the most notable things when boarding the footplate was the presence of black ovoids in the tender, made from compressed coal dust from the Ffos-y-Fran surface mine in Wales. There were warnings that a good wood fire was necessary as a base to getting the ovoids to burn, but in fact there were no problems as long as the ovoids were given time ‘to cook’ before heat was required. There was, however, some clinker on the fire grate at the end of each operating day, but that did not appear to affect FR 20’s ability to steam!

Alison tucked away in the waiting room at QuaintonSunday was the quieter of the two day Gala and Alison, who had brought down some FRT merchandise with her, needed to shelter from the fresh breeze and showers in the waiting room.

Alison and Alan outside with the FRT sales stand on Monday at QuaintonHowever, warmer weather on the Monday brought out more visitors and there was a constant steam of passengers for FR 20’s vintage train rides. People seemed very impressed with the appearance of the locomotive and Alison, now in a prominent place on the platform, was able to take a tidy sum for the FRT.

Ade, John and Tim taking a seat on the miniature railway at QuaintonAde, Alan and Tim took in turns to assist on the footplate which allowed a chance to explore the extensive site and view the other four locomotives in steam. Sam and John Dixon visited on Sunday and we have yet another of our Seats of the Week photographs when Ade, John and Tim sampled the splendid miniature railway which has a home on the site.

As far as the domestic arrangements were concerned, the Premier Inn was adjacent to the Horse and Jockey pub which provided excellent food and real ale each night over the weekend – something perhaps to remember for the future! All too soon it was time to start packing up and, with a full team available on Monday evening, it didn’t take long to prepare FR 20 for its homeward journey before saying a goodbye to friends old and new at Quainton and having a final dinner at the pub. FR 20 is due back at Preston on Wednesday.

Monday 25th April 2022

Back to our regular Monday blog spot.

Keith arrived on Wednesday with some bent lubrication pipework from 5643 for John Dixon to rectify after a visit to Bury the previous day. For the second time a couple of the pipes had snagged with the crosshead link to the vacuum pump which hadn’t done them any good! They should be re-fitted tomorrow and then 5643 will be given a test run to check the effects of some fine tuning to the valve gear. Dave Reynolds at the East Lancashire Railway had calculated that the eccentric rods needed shortening by between 1/4″ and 3/16″. Keith will be going to Bury this Thursday to witness the outcome of this work.

Keith continues to fabricate the new screw reverser for Wootton HallBack at Preston Keith has been progressing the manufacture of the new reverser for former GWR 4-6-0 No. 4979 Wootton Hall.

Phil Bell and John Davis with seats of the week.Work has continued with the removal of varnish from the interior of  Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5, with Phil Bell and John Davis taking advantage of the good weather last Wednesday lunchtime to have a seats of the week photo taken!

John Dixon working on the replacement step boards for GER No. 5John Dixon has been making up some replacement step boards for GER No. 5 with wood provided by Fred Jones.

Paul Newton removing paint from the Furness Railway bench castingsPaul Newton has been removing old paint from the metal castings on the former Furness Railway bench.

FR 20 taking water at Preston RiversideFurness Railway No. 20 operated the Ribble Steam Railway’s train service on Saturday coincident with a visit from the Industrial Railway Society which was holding its AGM at the Railway that day. We are pleased to report that, after the previous adjustments to the right hand crosshead and big end, the loco performed very well. It is seen here taking a drop of water at the column to see it through to the end of the day. Alan and Sam have been back on site today to prepare the loco for the low loader that will transport it to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre on Wednesday. FR 20 will be taking part in the BRC’s Spring Steam gala this next Sunday and Monday along with four other steam locos and is due to be back at Preston the following Wednesday.

Spot the FRT memberSam was missing at Preston on Saturday having taken advantage of an invitation to travel on the Festiniog Railway’s famous gravity slate train. Here it is with no less than three FRT members on board!

Tim on FR 20 with the FRT headboardFinally, it has been commented that the blog rarely contains a photo of Tim, mainly because he is usually the one taking photos of others! However, Diane Muldowney caught Tim on camera on Saturday and kindly sent us this picture of him holding the FRT headboard on FR 20 at the end of the day.

Tuesday 19th April 2022

We are back with a blog after a short holiday break.

5643 ready to leave Bury Bolton street on the 7th April 2022We are pleased to report that former GWR 0-6-2T No. 5643 has been back in service and operated successfully at the East Lancashire Railway after its winter maintenance programme. A view inside 5643's cabWe have a couple of photos here courtesy of Sam Middleton who had a ride on the locomotive as owner’s representative on Thursday, 7th April.

Cumbria in full flightThe Trust’s ‘Austerity 0-6-0ST locomotive Cumbria has also been back in action at the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway after having had a failed tube replaced. Thanks to the Embsay Shed News Facebook page for the photo.

Clear road ahead for FR 20Back at Preston, Alan and Sam have been adjusting the cotter pin that holds the right hand piston rod into the crosshead on Furness Railway locomotive No. 20, after which it double-headed one service train on the Ribble Steam Railway on Sunday and took two service trains on its own. Sam cleaning FR 20It is planned to be operating the RSR’s service this next Saturday, when the Railway will be hosting the Annual General Meeting of the Industrial Railway Society.

Paul Balshaw placing the stodgy yellow peril on the roof of GER No. 5There has been a key step forward with the overhaul of Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5 with the gluing down of the new canvas onto the wooden roof. Firstly, one half of the canvas was rolled back to allow John Dixon, Paul Balshaw and Tim to spread the ‘yellow peril’ glue onto the southern side of the roof on Wednesday, 6th April. Ready to roll back the canvas on GER No. 5After a pause for lunch, the canvas was then pressed down onto the glue using John’s hand made wooden tamping blocks. The second side was then glued down the following Wednesday by John, Ed and Tim. John pinning down the end of the canvasThe next job, which John has also started, is to prepare to refit the end and side beading strips.

Roger removing varnish from a door on GER 5Inside the coach there has been further progress on the removal of old varnish from the woodwork by  Roger, John Davis working in the corridor of GER No. 5John Davis, Fred finishing what Roger startedFred and Neil (but we only have photos of the first three!).

Work has continued on Caliban with Ade removing the piston heads from the piston rods. A quote for a new saddle tank has been accepted and the next job will be to liberate the old tank from the weeds near the RSR’s running shed so that it can be used as a pattern.

Finally there has been more welding on Wootton Hall’s tender and Tim has been hiding some of the new side patches with filler and paint. Ian Massey from Stoke-on-Trent has also been to do some welding on the new screw reverse mechanism which is being made for 4979, with Keith then taking that project further forward.

Monday 4th April 2022

Well we’re back to normal this week after recovery from the virus, and there’s plenty to report.

Fitting the new valvesFirst of all we head off to Bury where the Tuesday Gang has been putting 5643 back together after the receipt of the refurbished valves back from Tyseley and the subsequent machining of the valve spindle bearings to suit. The photo shows Keith at work with the refitting of the valves, which fitted very snugly we are told.

Valves fittedOnce fitted it was time to fit the valve covers and then the front buffer beam. Keith took the loco for a short test run up the sidings before the formal steam test which took place on Friday. 5643 is now scheduled to operate on the East Lancs Railway later this week. Well done to all those involved in the winter work programme.

Andy Booth cutting out the failed tube on CumbriaMoving over to Embsay, we were surprised and sorry to have learnt that one of Cumbria‘s tubes had shown signs of leakage a week last Friday. However, we have some spare unused tubes at Preston from the same batch, a couple of which were picked up by Matt Anderson on Wednesday and fitted by Andy Booth on Thursday. Cumbria is scheduled to be back in service at Embsay tomorrow. Thanks to everyone for the quick remedial action taken to get the loco back in service.

Repaired and painted torpedo vents ready for re-fittingBack at Preston work has continued on Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5 to the point that we cannot find any more excuses to delay gluing down the new canvas onto the roof. The torpedo vents have been repaired and painted.

GER No. 5's gas lamp housings reay for re-fittingSimilarly, the former gas lamp housings are also lined up in the shed ready for use.

John Davis taking time off from his work in the royal saloon to enjoy a cup of teaWe may all be very busy with all the work going on but John Davis took a little time off from cleaning old varnish from the interior of GER No. 5 to enjoy a cuppa!

Two of the new wooden tamping blocks ready for actionJohn Dixon has been manufacturing four wooden tamping blocks which will be used to seal the canvas on to the glued roof surface. All being well we will be gluing down the southern half of the canvas on GER No. 5 this Wednesday.

New steel plates welded into the side of Wootton Hall's tender tankFinally, Ribble Rail full timer Matt Crabtree, who is currently undertaking a Level 2 welding course, is very usefully taking the opportunity to weld new plates into Wootton Hall’s tender tank to keep his hand in on the practical side of welding.

A view of future repairs required on Wootton Hall's tender tank!This photo shows that there will be plenty of opportunity for further practice!

Monday 28th March 2022

Unfortunately the blog team has been hit by Covid this week, so we have a reduced service operating at this time (does that remind you of a big railway?!).

Keith picked up the refurbished valves for 5643 from Tyseley last Monday and Duncan has been machining the spindle bearings to suit the new spindle sizes. Newly re-fitted splasher on 5643A working party was convened at Bury last Tuesday when one of the splashers was re-fitted.

FR 20 getting some coalLast Wednesday and Friday were spent in getting FR 20 ready (including coaling up) for the RSR’s Spring Steam Gala at the weekend. FRT volunteers also spent time giving the RSR’s Museum a much needed spring clean in readiness for the start of the new season. Thanks go to all those who assisted in making the weekend a success.

A spotless FR 20 ready for the GalaWe have a photo here of a spotless FR 20 taken by Sam.

For those unable to be at Preston over the weekend, the following video gives an impressive view of proceedings.

Monday 21st March 2022

The bridging plate in placeLast Tuesday’s working party at Bury saw the bridge plate above 5643’s piston rods and valve spindles fitted back into place. A rear view of 5643 on blocks at Bury during winter maintenanceKeith is planning to pick up the refurbished valves from Tyseley this week after which it will be necessary to turn down the valve spindle glands to suit the newly machined spindles.

Ade cleaning out Caliban's valve spindle glandsAde has continued his work on Caliban, seen here cleaning out its valve spindle glands.

Sam fitting a washout plug on FR 20Furness Railway No. 20 is due to appear at next weekend’s Ribble Steam Railway Gala. Sam Middleton was given the task of re-fitting the washout plugs.

Engine and tender of FF 20 being coupled upNews was received that trackwork was due to take place in the RSR’s yard at Preston this week which meant that FR 20 had to be transferred to the RSR’s running shed rather sooner than planned, before this trackwork is started. Ade kindly came in on Friday to assist with the shunt and FR 20’s engine and tender are seen here in the process of being coupled up after winter maintenance.

FR 20 in the RSR running shed with the other locos for the GalaFR 20 is pictured with the other three locomotives expected to take part in the Gala.

Finally, work has continued on Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5 this week with Roger, Fred and John Davis doing a great job in cleaning the corridor woodwork of the old varnish whilst Phil has been fitting new hardboard to the corridor roof.

Monday 14th March 2022

Cumbria showing its safety valves lifting last Wednesday - with thanks to Embsay's facebook pageWe start with the news that the FRT’s ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST Cumbria passed its formal 14 month steam test last Wednesday and successfully operated a test train in readiness for traffic this year at the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway. Thanks to Matt Anderson at Embsay for making this happen.

John Dixon working on the gas lamp housings for GER 5Back at Preston, work continued on the overhaul of GER Royal Saloon No. 5. John Dixon has been checking over each of the repaired gas lamp housings and ensuring that tops and bottoms of each housing fit sweetly when paired up.

Roger and Fred at work in the corridor of GER 5There has been more work inside the coach to remove old varnish, undertaken by Roger and Fred (pictured here) plus Ed and John Davis. Phil Bell has been attending to the doors and associated fittings to ensure that they all work satisfactorily.

Keith has welcomed the arrival of three sheets of steel which will keep him busy repairing Wootton Hall‘s tender tank whilst Ade has been working on Caliban’s pistons.Ade with Caliban's pistons

Sam vacuums the foundation ring on FR 20Sam and Tim had a productive time on Friday cleaning out scale from FR 20’s foundation ring using an air line and even the vacuum cleaner, which accessed the ring through the mudholes. We will be starting to put FR 20 back together this week in readiness for its appearance at the RSR’s Steam Gala on the 26th and 27th March.

The newly welded smokebox door refitted to 5643Finally, work has continued on 5643 at Bury with last Tuesday’s working party re-fitting the smokebox door which has had its inner plate patched up.

Motion gas been refitted to 5643 in anticipation of receiving the valves.The motion has also been re-fitted in anticipation of receiving the valves back from Tyseley Loco Works, where the valve spindles are being skimmed to rectify wear.

Monday 7th March 2022

Apologies for the lack of a blog last week – we just ran out of time, partly due to illness. However, there has been plenty going on, so a quick synopsis here.

5643's left hand piston being re-fittedThere have been further working parties to Bury to remove 5643’s pistons so that any swarf resulting from the valve re-bores could be removed. John Dixon coaxing a piston into positionThe pistons have now been re-fitted, with John Dixon seen coaxing one of the pistons into position.

The smokebox door has been removed so that corroded platework (seen above) can be replaced.

Work has continued on Great Eastern Railway Royal Saloon No. 5 where Phil Bell has been doing preliminary work to replace some of the corridor ceiling. John Davis and Roger have been removing more old varnish from the corridor veneer. Tim repairing the gas light housing turrets for GER5Tim has been working with John Dixon to repair the gas light housing turrets prior to re-fitting.

Ade with Caliban's left hand from buffer ready for fittingAde has refitted the second of Caliban’s front buffers, which had to be removed to enable the re-bore of the cylinders to take place.Buffer fitted

Sam applying emery paper to Caliban's regulator handleSam has been cleaning up Caliban’s regulator handle with emery paper.

Paul Newton working on the Furness Railway benchPaul Newton has set about restoring the Furness Railway bench that was brought to Preston recently by Jim Kay.

Wootton Hall's reverser assemblyKeith has been progressing the fabrication of Wootton Hall’s reverser control.

There has been good news from Embsay in that Cumbria’s safety valves and blower/sanding valve have both returned from South Coast Steam after repair and been fitted. The locomotive has now been steamed and the valves set, ready for a visit from the boiler surveyor this Wednesday.

Vickers Gun Range Signal Box at ScrutonFinally, a visit to Scruton on the Wensleydale Railway on Saturday found the  former Vickers Gun Range signalbox (previously donated by the FRT) looking in good shape. It is planned to site this permanently at Leyburn to control a loop that is being installed.

Monday 21st February 2022

Keith discussing progressAnother very short update this week, but one that reflects in picture style (thanks, Sam) the important work that has been carried out on 5643 at Bury in the past weeks.

The valve liner bore is adjusted by a technicianLast week saw the valve liners being re-bored to cure anomalies. As you will see, it has been necessary to remove the front buffer beam and bridge plate above the slide bars.

View of the borer in placeA view of the other end of the borerDetails of the new diameters of the valve liners have been conveyed to Tyseley Locomotive Works where the valves, with newly fitted rings, should be ready at the end of next week.

That’s all for now – we hope a more normal service will be resumed next week!

Monday 14th February 2022

A very short update this week.

The canvas ready to be unpackagedThe most noticeable progress is with GER Royal Saloon No. 5 where the new canvas was magically uplifted on to the roof.

Once liberated from its packaging, the canvas was carefully spread the length of the roof, whereupon it was discovered that it was the wrong way up!?! After a certain amount of cursing (!), the issue was rectified and the canvas length trimmed roughly to size here. The canvas spread over the roofThe idea is that the canvas should be allowed to settle for a few days before being bonded to the roof with bonding paste – perhaps a week on Wednesday when we have all the necessary implements assembled.

The other noticeable progress is on Caliban‘s boiler where Russ, with assistance from others, has removed around two thirds of the tubes.

Another working party took place at Bury last Thursday when George joined Keith, John and Sam where work included splitting the crossheads on 5643. Keith (Happy Birthday, today!) is going to Bury tomorrow to undertake some more work on the locomotive. Incidentally, some of you will no doubt have seen a feature on BBC’s North West Tonight last Friday evening regarding a new young engineer being taken on by the East Lancashire Railway – and prominent during the filming was none other than 5643!