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UP Big Boy Restoration


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#1 WhoozOn1st

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 11:11 PM

Talks have been underway between Union Pacific and the SoCal chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society (http://rlhs.org/) regarding a possible trade for one of the 8 remaining 4-8-8-4 "Big Boy" steam locomotives for the purpose of U.P. restoring the machine to operation.

Trains magazine subscribers can view a number of online articles in the News Wire features, and this one is available with no log-in necessary:

Union Pacific studying Big Boy restoration project
http://trn.trains.co...878CDE995B&_z=z

"[UP] Company spokesman Mark Davis told Trains News Wire Friday that the company has been approached by and is working with a third party interested in restoring and operating a Big Boy. He said the railroad is evaluating the condition of preserved UP Big Boy locomotives and that it believes two might be available for restoration. Davis declined to name the other party or give a timeline for the project. But at least one organization is already talking about its potential to put a Big Boy back on the main line.

"In an exclusive interview with Trains News Wire, John Mastrobuoni from Prescott, Ariz., said the Southern California Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society is eager to find out if the railroad can meet its requirement that a replacement piece take the place of the Big Boy at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona. The engine is one of eight survivors of the 25 locomotives that Alco built beginning in 1941 for freight service between Cheyenne, Wyo., and Ogden, Utah until the last steamed in 1959."

Team Whooz had the pleasure of visiting one of the candidates, No. 4014, at it's display home in the L.A. County Fairplex at Pomona during the 2011 L.A. County Fair. 4014 and other engines on display at Pomona have a monthly open house, so with this pending trade in the air Team Whooz hopes to get over there soon for closer inspection of this fine locomotive that with a little luck and a lot of work might see steam again in the foreseeable future.

EDIT: Another Trains item with no log-in required is this rundown of the 8 surviving Big Boys:
Where are the Union Pacific Big Boys now?

http://trn.trains.co...g Boys now.aspx

Posted Image



Union Pacific "Big Boy" No. 4014. One of 8 Big Boys on display around the country, the 4-8-8-4 (or 4-8-0+0-8-4) 1941 Baldwin coal burner was built for the steep grade of UP's original Sherman Hill alignment in Wyoming; top speed 68 mph.


Edited by WhoozOn1st, 28 December 2012 - 11:42 PM.

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#2 RyanS

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 10:57 AM

That's an amazing piece of machinery.
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#3 the_traveler

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 12:16 PM

I hope it happens! :)

I've seen a Big Boy on display in Scranton, PA - and it really is a BIG BOY! :P I'd love to see one under steam again!
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#4 The Davy Crockett

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 06:44 AM

Where is 4014 stored? Surely not out in the elements?
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#5 printman2000

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 08:42 AM

UP's Challenger has been out of service for a long time. I have heard speculation that something is very wrong with it leading UP to consider this Big Boy restoration in its place.

#6 WhoozOn1st

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 05:29 PM

Where is 4014 stored? Surely not out in the elements?


As the photo above shows, 4014 is indeed outdoors and open to the elements. Seeing as how it's southern California, however, the elements are relatively mild. The location is L.A. County's Fairplex fairgrounds in Pomona. The second link in the original post leads to a rundown of locations and storage situations for all 8 surviving Big Boys.
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#7 Blackwolf

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 06:12 PM

UP's Challenger has been out of service for a long time. I have heard speculation that something is very wrong with it leading UP to consider this Big Boy restoration in its place.


Whats wrong with #3985? Granted, it has been out of the public eye for some time, leaving #844 to be the locomotive that UP sends out for all of the steam events lately. I cannot find any news of there being trouble for the Challenger, aside from the issues in 2008 which were supposedly fixed in 2010.

Loosing the Challenger to have a Big Boy would temper my enthusiasm quite a bit. :unsure:

Edited by Blackwolf, 30 December 2012 - 06:13 PM.

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#8 amtrakwolverine

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 06:30 PM

The challenger was working in 2010 during the STL gathering we went and saw it and it was moving under steam.

#9 printman2000

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 06:37 PM

The challenger was working in 2010 during the STL gathering we went and saw it and it was moving under steam.


I believe she has not been under steam since 2010. And I can find no news of when she will be.

#10 WhoozOn1st

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 10:52 PM

Before trying to hunt down any rumors about 3985 being badly hurt or a Big Boy being restored to take the Challenger's place, I'll recall that the UP locomotive was quite a sight in the morning sun at St. Louis when visited by AU during Gathering IV (October 2010), and a stirring view when caught crossing the Mississippi the next morning. Intriguing hearsay, though...




Posted Image


Posted Image


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHkBPnOCsC4


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#11 Swadian Hardcore

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 11:30 PM

I hope that 3985 is still operational but it would also be great to have 4014 steaming again!

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#12 BNSFboy

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 12:30 AM

UP's Challenger has been out of service for a long time. I have heard speculation that something is very wrong with it leading UP to consider this Big Boy restoration in its place.

3985 is still working and there is nothing wrong with it. It is just going through its 15 year FRA inspection and other maintenance, and this is coming from one of the members of the steam crew I talked to while the 844 was in Amarillo, Texas.

#13 Swadian Hardcore

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 08:17 PM


UP's Challenger has been out of service for a long time. I have heard speculation that something is very wrong with it leading UP to consider this Big Boy restoration in its place.

3985 is still working and there is nothing wrong with it. It is just going through its 15 year FRA inspection and other maintenance, and this is coming from one of the members of the steam crew I talked to while the 844 was in Amarillo, Texas.


That's a relief! Now just looking for that Big Boy for a trio of steamers!

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GO GREYHOUND - AND LEAVE THE DRIVING TO US!
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OPERATED BY: GREYHOUND CANADA TRANSPORTATION CORP., CALGARY, AB, NSC-000026177, FHA-MC-304126


#14 cirdan

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 05:00 AM

I saw the one in Dallas and staff at the museum there told me that their's was probably in the best condition orf all remaining Big Boys as it had had a major overhaul and repair not too long before being retired (maybe that was just wishful thinking though, seeing this example hasn't been mentioned in this discussion yet). Looking closer, I saw that the motion had been partly torched (they told me due to a derailment) and lots of smaller bits like valves, gauges and pipes were missing (maybe pocketed by souvenir hunters?). But I guess this is nothing that can't be put right. Maybe several locomotives can be dismantled to provide a pool of parts to get one working? The bad parts can then be put back together to make display locomotives so no locomotive is actually lost.

#15 amtrakwolverine

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 05:05 AM

One of the issues was moving the locomotive since it can't fit on today's tight curves so they are also looking for one that's the easiest to get to the shop.

#16 printman2000

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 02:07 PM


UP's Challenger has been out of service for a long time. I have heard speculation that something is very wrong with it leading UP to consider this Big Boy restoration in its place.

3985 is still working and there is nothing wrong with it. It is just going through its 15 year FRA inspection and other maintenance, and this is coming from one of the members of the steam crew I talked to while the 844 was in Amarillo, Texas.


I hope they are right. It has just been idle for a pretty long time (over two years) with no official news of it moving in the future.

#17 printman2000

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 02:14 PM



UP's Challenger has been out of service for a long time. I have heard speculation that something is very wrong with it leading UP to consider this Big Boy restoration in its place.

3985 is still working and there is nothing wrong with it. It is just going through its 15 year FRA inspection and other maintenance, and this is coming from one of the members of the steam crew I talked to while the 844 was in Amarillo, Texas.


I hope they are right. It has just been idle for a pretty long time (over two years) with no official news of it moving in the future.


UP's site says...

Prior to the Missouri River Eagle/Sedalia Sesquicentennial Special in 2010, No. 3985 had been shop-bound for routine maintenance since 2008.


So it was in the shop for two years, then did a run, and has now been in the shop for two more years. Sounds like more than just 15 year inspections to me.

Listed in the wikipedia page, it says...

According to the UP Steam Volunteers the "Challenger" will not be operating until 2016 or later.


I know, not the most trusted source, but still.

#18 The Davy Crockett

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 04:43 PM

So...
the evidence/conjecture is that Challenger needs some serious work.
So...
I'll conjecture further that UP might be 'weighing its options' about whether it would be cheaper/more cost effective to resurrect a Big Boy or bite the bullet and get the work on Challenger done. One has to admit the goodwill from bringing a Big Boy back to life sure would be pretty great. :rolleyes:

And to go completely off the deep end: :ohboy:
Like it will ever happen - hey, there were rumors once - but if only CSX would restore C&O's Allegheny #1604, which is housed at the B&O Museum, there could be some seriously fun competition to see who's boss!! :lol:
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#19 printman2000

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 05:24 PM

Actually, your further conjecture was what I conjectured earlier in this thread.

To be clear, I know nothing other than what I posted here.

#20 BNSFboy

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 12:00 AM

I just remember that the steam crew member said that they were replacing all of the firebox pipes and more then likely they will use this time to make other repairs. The wheels might get sent to a shop somewhere to get refitted and probably the cab will get redone. You also have to remember that the steam crew does its own maintenance on the engines and they aren't around all of the year, which is why it might take so long to get it rebuilt.



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