'Big Boy' Returns To Steam!

Deepgreen

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I have seen nothing in the railway press about the fact that Union Pacific 'Big Boy' class 4-8-8-4 no. 4014 has returned to fully-restored main line use. It made a run over the famous Wasatch pass on 8 May (photo (not mine) here: https://flic.kr/p/25ikBgt - there are more on Flickr).

I can't understand the lack of coverage of this major steam project's completion.
 
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MarcVD

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Well it is covered by the US press of course. I have a subscription to the US magazine Trains and have seen all the details there since the restoration started in 2014.

In general, American and European/Asian/African train networks tend to largely ignore each other. They are really separate worlds. The European magazines that I read almost never mention anything American, and it is the same the other way around.
 

Deepgreen

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Well it is covered by the US press of course. I have a subscription to the US magazine Trains and have seen all the details there since the restoration started in 2014.

In general, American and European/Asian/African train networks tend to largely ignore each other. They are really separate worlds. The European magazines that I read almost never mention anything American, and it is the same the other way around.
I mentioned it because there was significant coverage in the UK when the project was announced, but it died away. I look forward to seeing the videos.
 

Deepgreen

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I've seen a few videos now and 4014 looks amazing. There has been talk of UP using her on revenue-earning freights. I don't know the relative costs to run her vice, say, two or three diesels (coal v diesel, crew costs, preparation facilities, etc.) but I imagine 4014 would not be cheap to operate! However, publicity would obviously be huge. My question would be; does this publicity actually garner any significant extra revenue in the longer-term? UP has a large network, but freight customers only have them to choose on their particular network. I remember 3985 being used on at least one revenue-earning freight in preservation - there's a video here:https://binged.it/2YAIeWN. To see 4014 doing something similar would be very special.
 

MarcVD

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4014 can't go everywhere because of missing turning facilities of the appropriate size. Remember they were built for a very specific line, and even there the turntables could barely accomodate them.

Also, UP never lets steam engines go alone on the main line, they always have a diesel engine in the consist, usually right after the tenders. That would make revenue runs quite expensive. And I'm not sure that UP steam locos are equipped with all the security devices (PTC, etc) that you would expect on tevenue trains.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Apparently 4014 is now an oil burner.
That at least should reduce operating costs and complexity.
(Although there's plenty of hard coal in Wyoming and Utah, the staple rail traffic in the area!).
 

MarcVD

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It was converted to oil, I think in order to avoid starting fires along the line (bushes, etc). As a consequence, the tender she's hauling is not her one but has been borrowed from another loco.
 

Deepgreen

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4014 can't go everywhere because of missing turning facilities of the appropriate size. Remember they were built for a very specific line, and even there the turntables could barely accomodate them.

Also, UP never lets steam engines go alone on the main line, they always have a diesel engine in the consist, usually right after the tenders. That would make revenue runs quite expensive. And I'm not sure that UP steam locos are equipped with all the security devices (PTC, etc) that you would expect on tevenue trains.
I was thinking something along the lines of this:
. Things may have changed even since this, of course.
 

gysev

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I went to Utah with a friend to see 4014 in action. However, the day it arrived (8 may) the weather was horrible with plenty of rain. The next day, after the official ceremony, 4014 and 844 were displayed at Ogden Union Station. There were a lot of railfans from around the world - we spoke with people from the UK, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. However, I think we are the only Belgians alive who can claim to have seen a BigBoy in action !
 

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ac6000cw

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I was thinking something along the lines of this:
. Things may have changed even since this, of course.
I think some years ago the Challenger was out on a test run and got used to assist a freight (as it was the nearest available loco) - it must have been many years since a steam loco was previously used as a 'pusher' on a revenue freight train.

In general, American and European/Asian/African train networks tend to largely ignore each other. They are really separate worlds. The European magazines that I read almost never mention anything American, and it is the same the other way around.
I agree - it's interesting (and occasionally amusing) to read the coverage in Trains magazine of European railway topics viewed from an American perspective, but at least they do have *some* European articles - I can't remember the last time I read an article in a UK railway magazine on US railroading (and their coverage of stuff across the Channel is generally very limited as well).

Check out the video, amazing this was built before CAD and computers. Every tube, pipe or fitting has a purpose. Engineering in motion.

https://www.autoblog.com/2019/05/09/refurbished-big-boy-locomotive-fires-up-crowds-in-the-west/?icid=autoblog|trend|massive-'big-boy'-locomotive-refurbished

No wonder the ground shakes when this thing goes by.
It does if you have a set of big US diesels too - a few years ago I was watching three locos re-start a freight (uphill) on Tehachapi pass. I was standing maybe 20-30 metres away, and noticed that I was getting strong vibrations through my feet that corresponded to the noise from the three diesel engines... And the creaking/groaning noises you get from the track at low speeds reminds you of just how heavy a 190+ tonne diesel loco really is...
 
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Crepello

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Sorry to rejuvenate a latent thread - just wondered if any US-based members (or visitors) have seen/will be seeing #4014's current tour?

I'd overlooked it - but was reminded by a social media post from our county sheriff's office! Planning to see it outside of Houston, tomorrow afternoon. And I normally need a darned solid reason to sign my kids out of school early... but I'd say this qualifies! Beyond excited - never thought this opportunity would arise.
 

ac6000cw

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just wondered if any US-based members (or visitors) have seen/will be seeing #4014's current tour?
I have (as a visitor) - saw it in the LA area around the weekend of 12th/13th October. It's very impressive...the sheer size of it is something else:

IMG_20191010_120214 by ac6044cw, on Flickr

IMG_20191010_133300 by ac6044cw, on Flickr

Just look at the length of that firebox:

IMG_20191010_134219 by ac6044cw, on Flickr

...and tender:

IMG_20191010_133311 by ac6044cw, on Flickr

(I've got lots more photos and video, but haven't yet had time to sort them out since I got back home. The above are a few shots taken with a phone at West Colton yard when it was on show to the public).
 

Crepello

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Thank you for the photos!

Pulled my kids out of school Wednesday afternoon - and I've *never* felt justified in doing that before, but felt #4014 was an educational exception! Gave my ageing D200 a good workout, here's the Big Boy gathering speed on departure from Richmond TX

4014-3.jpg
 

ac6000cw

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Gave my ageing D200 a good workout, here's the Big Boy gathering speed on departure from Richmond TX
Nice shot - thank you! :smile:

This is some of my video of 'Big Boy' climbing out of the San Bernardino area, heading east on the ex-SP 'Sunset Route' on 15th October, followed by its departure from a viewing stop in Indio, CA, a few hours later (I gave up the chase at that point):


Incidentally, Big Boy weighs about 567 tonnes (engine + tender, fully fueled and watered, according to Wikipedia), it's got another two tenders attached (the smaller yellow ones) which are probably at least 150 tonnes each, and then there's a 190+ tonne ES44 diesel loco behind those. So there is over 1000 tonnes of 'motive power' related weight on that train...
 
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