The Big Boy, part 6

Posted one month ago by John E. Bush
Let’s resume the story of the Big Boy locomotives, going back to the early 1940s. Always interested in economic matters, social trends, industrial doings, and public opinion Union Pacific carefully monitored the media. Subscribing to virtually every important newspaper or magazine in the nation and many foreign countries, specific employees were assigned to comb publications on a daily basis. Today UP also monitors various internet sites. I’m going to assert here that the 4000s re...

The Big Boy, part 5

Posted 3 months ago by John E. Bush
In part four of this look at the Big Boy locomotive, I made mention of something a little unusual in steam locomotive design: the notion of a second throttle. Well, that’s actually a joke. The Big Boys didn’t have two throttles. Before I explain, please take a moment to look at the accompanying photograph. The image is a detail portion of a cab backhead shot made by Alco’s company photographer in late August 1941. Readily visible in the photo is the vertical throttle lever of ...

Big Boy parts: turbo-generators, drivers, spring rigging, pilots, stack deflectors, and cabs

Posted 7 months ago by John E. Bush
In Part 4 I’ll continue detailing interesting elements involving the design and construction of the 20 Union Pacific Big Boy locomotives Nos. 4000-4019. In another of the series “25 things you may not have known about Big Boy locomotives,” the turbo-generators were located in a totally differently location than on previous UP locomotives.  Interestingly, it was decided to mount the generators low on the right side of the locomotive in the space between the last driving wh...

Of Big Boy boilers, parts, and running gear

Posted 8 months ago by John E. Bush
Now that we have progressed to the point where the first 20 locomotives have been ordered I’d like to address a few interesting things having to do with the design and construction of these engines. One thing you may not realize, and which will form another of the “twenty five things you may not know about Big Boy” is the fact that steam locomotives were rarely made entirely by the locomotive builders, and certainly none in the modern steam era. In the case of the Big Boys mor...

The History of the Big Boy Locomotive, Part 2

Posted 10 months ago by John E. Bush
For Part 1 of the Big Boy history, click here.  At this same time, the newly formed Department of Research and Mechanical Standards, led by Wyoming native Otto Jabelmann who had come under the eye of the Harriman family and been brought to Omaha to run the new group, was updating older power.  Always active in the advancement of steam loco performance and economy, Union Pacific staff had worked closely with engineers in the Firebar Corporation in the early 1930’s to develop a ne...

The History of the Big Boy Locomotive, Part 1

Posted 10 months ago by John E. Bush
Please let me open by stating that I am humbled and excited by the invitation to prepare and share this blog. The chance to do this now, as we anxiously await completion of the restoration to operation of Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4014, a concept only dreamed of just a few short years ago, somehow brings a feeling of kinship. As if I’m somehow a part of the family so diligently working toward what was for decades a seemingly impossible, never-to-happen goal. I hope it proves half as much f...

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