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USA : The Big Boy

Ambiguity warning :
This page is about the steam locomotive "Big Boy". Not the fast food chain Big Boy Restaurants, which in fact started in 1936; 5 years BEFORE the first "Big Boy" went into service with the Union Pacific.


Contents on this page :

The remaining "Big Boys" - Union Pacific and # 4014 - Is an restoration of the 4014 feasable ? - 4014 Pomona to Cheyenne - Most accessable Big Boy ? - Märklin and the Big Boy



Latest news on the 4014 :

Status July 2014 :
Work progresses in Cheyenne, Wyoming. No official schedule or deadline, but work should take "3-5 years" from the arrival in Cheyenne on May 9th, 2014. May 2019, the 150 anniversary of the Golden Spike is seriously named as a deadline.
The 4-8-8-4 steam locomotive nicknamed "Big Boy" is no doubt one of the great marvels in railroading history.

I will presume that you can use Google to find basic information about the Big Boy, so here you'll only find some lesser-known tid-bits regarding the Big Boy.

One book, ( big leaflet - 64 pages b/w ), that I can recommend about the Big Boy, at least as an introduction to the Big Boy, is the The Big Legacy of the Union Pacific Big Boy by James J. Reisdorff and Michael M. Bartels; South Platte Press; April 2006.

The remaining "Big Boys"

There are currently ( 2014) 8 remaining Big Boys of the 25 built in 1941 and 1943.

Download my Google Earth kmz-file with the locations of these 8 locomotives. 7 locomotives are on display, primarily in museums.

Union Pacific and the 4014

The 8th, the 4014, has just in May 2014 been transported from California to the Union Pacific Steam Shop in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The Union Pacific (UP) will, or will try, to restore the 4014 to operative status. There is no definitive schedule or deadline, but the 150 year jubilee of the "Golden Spike" in May 10th, 2019 at Promontory Summit, is mentioned by some UP officials.

Since the Promontory Summit rails section is now only about 1,3 km long without any connection to any railline, the actual ceremony with the Big Boy will presumably be held in near-by Ogden or perhaps in Cheyenne. As 2019 approaches we'll know more about that.

In the meantime you can follw UP's progress on Union Pacific Heritage Steam Trains.

Take a look also at the UP press/media site regarding the 4014 : Union Pacific Media Kit

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Is an restoration of the 4014 feasable ?

Is a restoration and the operation of the 4014 realistic ?

Thanks to 2 members ( Rick Brown and Paul Guercio ) of the Southern California Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society (R&LHS) :
Paul Guercio - Big Boy - Union Pacific 4014
Paul Guercio
[ http://uphs.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Pomona-02.jpg ]
Rick Brown - Big Boy - Union Pacific 4014
Rick Brown
[ http://uphs.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Pomona-01.jpg ]

who have spent literally thousands of hours just keeping the 4014 from detoriating, the work needed to be done with the 4014 is ONLY :
  • boiler - tubes
  • cylinders bore out - pistons and rods - new rings
  • brake system
  • injectors, air pumps etc
  • bearing check
  • hydrotest and inspection by the Federal Railroad Administration
  • all the un-expected things
No small job for the UP Steam shop in Cheyenne, but they did a similar job with the Challenger (4-6-6-4) 3985 that had a major overhaul at the Cheyenne shops in 2008 - 2010.

The major problem, however, will be the operation; the actual driving around. Will the 4014 be a coal or oil burner ?

Coal burning means a lot of limitations to avoid grass fires along the tracks. While the 3985 successfully was converted to oil in 1990, that doesn't mean that it will be just as easy with the Big Boy.

Even as a oil burner the sheer size and weight of the Big Boy will set limitations as to where it can run. Just the turning of the Big Boy means that either a turntable or a large "wye" must be at hand. Then comes bridges and switches etc etc.

Last but not least comes the logistical difficulties in finding spots in UP's otherwise busy schedule where the Big Boys can roam the tracks.

No matter whether the 4014 will be a coal or oil burner I will most definitely recommend that you make a date for a trip to Wyoming / Utah when the Big Boy takes it runs under own steam and not "just" being pulled by diesel locomotives.

4014 - Pomona to Cheyenne

Use Google and Youtube to find nice fotos and videos of the 4014's trip from Pomona, California to Cheyenne, Wyoming; January - May 2014.

On this trip the Big Boy was NOT under steam but was pulled / pushed by diesels.

It should be remembered, and greatly appreciated, that while the 4014 was at the "Los Angeles County Fairplex" and the Railway Locomotive Historical Society for over 50 years; from 1962 til 2014, it is the work of 2 members ( Rick Brown and Paul Guercio ) of the Southern California Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society (R&LHS), that has kept the 4014 in a good condition; the weather in California also had its share of course.

The Railway Locomotive Historical Society got a SD40-2c locomotive U.P. #3105, caboose U.P.P. #24567, and an insulated boxcar U.P. #453665 in exchange for the Big Boy 4014. The museum is well worth a visit, even though there is no Big Boy there anymore.

Most accessable Big Boy ?

For Europeans the best option to see a Big Boy is presumably the 4012 in Scranton, PA, in Steamtown about 2 hours drive from New York City.

The 4012 is also generally one of the most accessable Big Boys because it is placed, so-to-speak, out-in-the-open AND outside the ticket office of the Steamtown National Historic Site. Check Google Earth and find the access over the pedestrian bridge from the mall north-east of the car-entrance from West Lackawanna Ave.

It truly is a large and beautiful locomotive that continues to empress everytime you stand next to it.

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Märklin and the Big Boy

Märklin is one of the manufacturers that have made a scale copy ( H0 ) of the Big Boy, but not the first. Japanese Tenshodo made a model in brass as early as 1955.

34990 [DELTA] - 37990 [FX]
Big Boy # 4013 around 1960.
Produced 2001 - 2002.

37991
Big Boy 4012 around 1960.
Produced 2004 - 2005.

37992
Big Boy 4012 - weathered.
Produced 2004 - 2005 ??

37993
Big Boy 4006. No year specified.
Produced 2009 / 2010.

37994
Big Boy # 4019 with experimental smoke deflectors as during winter 1944 /-1945.
Produced 2012 - 2013.

37995
Big Boy # 4014, weathered, around 1948.
Produced 2013 - 2014.

29849 [120 V]- 29949 [230 V] - Starter-set.
Big Boy
Produced 2002 - 2003 - 2004.

Märklin made similar Trix versions of the Märklin Big Boy; # 22062, 22115, 22598, 22599 and in the startset 21507.

Märklin even published a book in 2001, item #07499, "Big Boy & Co.", by Joe. G. Collias, which presumably was a "Märklin-ization" of the "The Last of Steam" by Joe G. Collias from 1994.

On Marklin.com you can still (2014) find much information about the Big Boy and the Märklin H0-scale version.

On Märklin's German website you can still (2014) see an interactive display of the Märklin Big Boy.

All the Märklin Big Boy's are 46,5 cm long ( almost 1/2 meter ) and comes with these running instructions from Märklin :
"...The locomotive can be used on curved track with a radius of 360 mm / 14-3/16" or more, however we recommend larger radii. Due to the overhang of the long boiler, signals, catenary masts, bridge railings, tunnel portals, etc. must be installed for sufficient clearance on curves. The track must be well mounted due to the heavy weight of the locomotive. ..."

In other words : You can't run the Big Boy on an ordinary European style layout.

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Copyright © Christian Vinaa
2014 -
"Märklin" and other brand names and product names and logo's
are ©, TM or registered trademarks of their respective owners,
and are used on this website for purely informational purposes.

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