Last time a Big Boy was under steam?

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Last time a Big Boy was under steam?
Posted by John Godfrey on Saturday, March 13, 2010 3:04 PM

I was wondering if anyone knew the last time a Big Boy was under steam?  I know the last revenue run was in 1959.  I also have read that a few were kept in operational status until 1962.  When they were retired were they pulled dead in tow or steamed under their own power to other locations for display or scrapping?  A Google search turns up a lot of info but not much after their retirement.  Thanks in advance!

John

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Posted by rsj4trains on Saturday, March 13, 2010 9:08 PM

 According to the following reference:

"The Big Legacy of the Union Pacific Big Boy"

by

James J. Reisdorff and Michael M. Bartels

South Platte Press, April 2006

 

"The final season of service for the Big Boys was July 6 -21, 1959 when the 4011, 4014, 4015, 4017, 4019 and 4023 made 45 round trips between Cheyenne and Laramie. It ended with the 4015 arriving in Cheyenne at 7:55 p.m. on July 21."

 "At the final phase-out of Union Pacific steam operations in 1959, there were still six Big Boys stored at the roundhouse in Green River, Wyo., while the roundhouse at Laramie still contained four. The remaining 15 engines of the 4000 class were stored at Cheyenne. The so-called Green River and Laramie Big Boys then remained at their respective terminals until they were officially retired by Union Pacific, after which they were towed to Cheyenne to join their brothers for final disposition."

In an ironic twist of fate, the last Big Boy to operate under steam (4015) was the first Big Boy to be scrapped in September, 1961. Fourteen of the Big Boys were scrapped in Cheyenne and three (4003, 4010 and 4020) were towed to a steel mill near Provo, Utah for scrapping. Eight of the Big Boys (4004, 4005, 4006, 4012, 4014, 4017, 4018 and 4023) were saved and are currently on display.

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Posted by Thomas 9011 on Sunday, March 14, 2010 5:41 AM

Many years ago I was talking to Ron zeil who wrote the book "The twilight of steam locomotives".Ron was one of the few photographers who photographed steam locomotives getting scrapped.He did have one or two photos in his book of the big boys on the dead track awaiting scrapping and asked him about those photos.He told me that the Union pacific loved those locomotives so much it broke their heart to scrap them.He said they did the scrapping in the shops by Union pacific workers so nobody would witness or photograph the deed.He said he managed to get into one of the shops and quickly took one roll of film worth of pictures before he left.One of the scrappers asked him if he would like to cut one of the piston rods in half and he said "I just couldn't do that to something I love so much".The scrapper told him "I don't like it either".

 

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Posted by AgentKid on Monday, March 15, 2010 10:38 PM

rsj4trains
after which they were towed to Cheyenne

 

That is really a very sad statement, and an astounding one too, when you think how much it cost to build them not that many years before.

Bruce

 

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Posted by Idahoshay on Monday, March 15, 2010 11:38 PM
When was the time line for the Bigboys first going off line? and then their return to service for their last runs before final being taken off line for the cutters torch?
Because I thought I read some where that UP had a power shortage and had to call them back to service till the diesel's made up the "Gap" in power shortage at that time?
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Posted by rsj4trains on Tuesday, March 16, 2010 8:59 PM

An approximate timeline of the last years of Big Boy operations:

1956 Last year of regular Big Boy operations.

November 1956 through April 1957  Final major overhauls (Classified Repairs) of all of the Big Boys. Major personnel layoffs in the Cheyenne shops.

1957 Big Boy operations continue through the summer and fall traffic surges. However, as mechanical problems develop or major inspections are due, the Big Boys are placed in storage. For example, 4006 is placed in final storage in September and 4005 and 4018 make their final trips in October.

1958 Operations of the Big Boys continue through the summer and fall. However, by October 1958, 4004 and 4018 have run their last trips. Other Big Boys follow them into the dead lines.

November 30, 1958 A system status report shows all Big Boys in storage.

July 6, 1959  4014 is the first Big Boy placed back in service for the final season.

July 7, 1959  4011, 4015, 4017 and 4023 are returned to steam.

July 8, 1959  4019 is the last Big Boy returned to steam in 1959.

July 20, 1959   4017, 4019 and 4023 make their final runs and are placed in storage.

July 21, 1959   4011, 4014 and 4015 make their final runs and are placed in storage.

July 1959 through August 1961  All of the Big Boys are retained in storage in case a sudden traffic surge requires their use. However, the diesels are able to handle the traffic.

September 1961  Scrapping of the Big Boys begins with 4015 being the first engine to be cut up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by BNSFwatcher on Wednesday, March 17, 2010 3:36 PM

One of them is still extant at "Steamtown" in Scranton, PA.  It is owned by the U. S. Gummint.  Maybe we could start a fund to get it operational.  Maybe get some "O'Bamanoloply Money"?  What thinks, you?  That would be cool!  Do-able?  Dunno.  I'm sure the UP would allow it to run on their track.  If not, BNSF would.  After all, we ran the ex-SP 4449 on BNSF twice last year.

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Posted by John Godfrey on Wednesday, March 17, 2010 10:14 PM

 Thanks for the replies with all of this information.  I appreciate it.  As for seeing one run again, I don't think it will ever happen, so let's not go there.

 

John

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Posted by sundayniagara on Friday, March 26, 2010 8:09 PM

 Will BNSF allow 3751 to run on it's rails?

http://www.hon3forums.com http://www.americandragracing.com http://www.sundayniagara.com http://www.yorkreunion.com BE THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Posted by samfp1943 on Saturday, March 27, 2010 5:31 PM

Hays:

       I think running Big Boys again is probably an impossibility. 

      Union Pacific according to something I have read was supposed to have "disabled" the locomotives prior to donation.    Part of the process of disabling was to sever the piston rods by torching them. That was a major step taken to insure they were not brought back into service.

    Sure would like to think this is not the case, but I think it is.   They will only be able to impose their size on railfans with their static displays. 

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by betamax on Saturday, March 27, 2010 5:48 PM
samfp1943

Hays:

       I think running Big Boys again is probably an impossibility. 

      Union Pacific according to something I have read was supposed to have "disabled" the locomotives prior to donation.    Part of the process of disabling was to sever the piston rods by torching them. That was a major step taken to insure they were not brought back into service.

    Sure would like to think this is not the case, but I think it is.   They will only be able to impose their size on railfans with their static displays. 

The unit on display at Steamtown is in fact, missing the piston rods, which means the piston is probably missing too.

Either way, the cost of getting one restored to serviceable condition pretty well rules that out. Then there is not only the issue of finding places to run such a massive engine, but how do you turn it around? Not to mention that UP realigned their trackage prior to the arrival of the Big Boy to address clearance issues.

If you had a million dollars you didn't need, it might be possible to get one under steam.

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Posted by Thomas 9011 on Monday, March 29, 2010 12:50 AM

Cutting the piston rods were not meant to disable the steam locomotive from running again.They did it because these steam locomotives sometimes sat for years in storage before they were donated to a park.When you run a steam locomotive you have to have steam running the lubricators to oil the various parts of the locomotive including the pistons.If a steam engine is moved with out steam it is the same as running your car with no oil in the engine.The pistons can seize and stop the wheels from turning.The person moving this locomoitve can either drop both rods that extend from the piston rod to the driving wheels or remove the pistons.It might of been time or lazyness,but the railroads figured if they just cut the piston rod out it would solve the issue of the piston siezing up.

 As far as replacing missing parts on the Big boy.Anything they made back then can be made now.If you have the bad part or the blueprints you can give them to a machinist or a foundry to be made.If you are missing a part you can borrow it from another locomotive so they can cast a new one.The pistons and the pistons rods are both easy to fabricate and could be done at most machine shops.There is power plants and cargo ships that have steam boilers that produce steam for various reasons.They have boilers that would dwarf the big boy.There is many boiler shops around the United states that repair and fabricate these boilers and could build or repair a boiler for the Big boy if needed.

 As far as running it again.The majority of the Class one railroads can handle those huge 32 axle special load cars for transporting very heavy loads.These special cars have carried loads that have exceeded the big boys weight far over.So the rails and bridges could handle the weight if it was to tour again.I'm sure only one or two railroads would allow it though as most are not very steam friendly.If it was restored you could run the locomotive on a small tourist train on railroads such as the Royal gorge or the Grand canyon.Most people cite the high fuel consumption but that is typcially full throttle and pulling a freight train.Pulling 10 or 20 cars would not take much steam espcially if it was on flat ground.Another problem I keep hearing is where to turn it.Plan ahead.There are many Y's and ballon tracks on railroads.Pick a destination that has a Y at the end of it.If you take a 60 or 100 mile trip the chances of the locomotive passing a Y is pretty good.If a Y is not possible just make it a one way trip.

 For all those interested the Age of steam railway museum in Dallas,Texas will be moving to Frisco either this year or more likely next year.They have a Big boy in their collection.So you can see a Big boy roaming the rails although it will not be under steam and towed.

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Posted by carnej1 on Monday, March 29, 2010 11:37 AM

Recall that about 10 years ago a guy claiming to be a film producer (IIRC, he had never actually produced a film) attempted to purchase one of the surviving Big Boys,claiming he would restore it to operational status and use it as the "Star" of a film. I seem to recall this went as far as having restoration experts survey the locomotive and come up with estimates on how much it would cost. In the end nothing happened, I seem to remember that there was a suggestion that the producer was actually a scam artist?

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Posted by samfp1943 on Monday, March 29, 2010 2:35 PM

carnej1

Recall that about 10 years ago a guy claiming to be a film producer (IIRC, he had never actually produced a film) attempted to purchase one of the surviving Big Boys,claiming he would restore it to operational status and use it as the "Star" of a film. I seem to recall this went as far as having restoration experts survey the locomotive and come up with estimates on how much it would cost. In the end nothing happened, I seem to remember that there was a suggestion that the producer was actually a scam artist?

Your post is right on the mark, Here is a lind piece from the 4018 current location.

(Linked Here: From the website/ Museum of the American RR http://www.steamlocomotive.com/bigboy/

In April, 1998 it was announced that 4014018: Museum of the American Railroad, Dallas, TX

Photo courtesy Melita McFall

2000 Photo Wes Barris Photo courtesy Kennedy How "Of all the Big Boys I have seen, from the outside, 4018 appears to be in the worst condition. The main reason I say this is because when I saw it, I noticed that the piston rods had been severed by a cutting torch (see photo). This was done when 4018 was moved to the museum back in the late 60s. Evidently, 4018 was being moved from some undisclosed location on a UP line to the museum when the pistons seized. Pressure from the the UP resulted in the cutting of the rods to get 4018 moving again. Also, the boiler jacketing and much of the piping looked to be in pretty rough shape. I saw moss growing through holes in the boiler jacketing which implied that a substantial amount of moisture was trapped against the boiler (see photo).

However, the fire tubes and firebox are apparently in relatively good shape and most (if not all) of the appliances inside of the cab are intact (see photo). Because of how 4018 is parked (between two other locomotives) it is difficult to get a good photograph of her.

4018 will be restored to operating condition for use in a movie titled Big Boy. During my visit to the Age of Steam Railroad Museum (as it was named back then) in November 2000, I was told that it had been roughly a year since anyone has heard from the person who proposed to use 4018 in a movie. From what I've heard, the cost of restoring this big boy was going to be between $700,000 and $1,000,000. Then, the financing for this proposed movie fell through. As a result, 4018 continues to be displayed at this museum. "

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by Dakguy201 on Tuesday, March 30, 2010 5:44 AM

UP 4023, which is on display at Omaha, appears to have its rods intact.  Are they dummies that were added for the display, or were not all of them cut to begin with? 

added:  I checked my photo files and the one at Green Bay (4017?) also appears to have its rods intact, although I had no photo that clearly included the second set of drivers. 

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Posted by nwo4rf on Tuesday, March 30, 2010 7:52 AM

It is funny that the one in Texas would be in good condition. When the last two Big Boys backshoped were the one in Omaha and the one in Denver. Both Locomotives were going to be sold to a mine in (i think) in Africa or Argintena. Both were completly backshoped then left dissasembled for shipment. But the deal fell thru, one was sent to Omaha the other to Denver for display. By the way I asked Steven Lee one time what the chances were to see a Big Boy in steam on the UP. He told me "I would shoot the first person that even tried to put one wheel of a Big Boy under steam on UP rails" So I don't think it is going to happen at least on the UP.

 

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Posted by samfp1943 on Tuesday, March 30, 2010 12:35 PM

"...By the way I asked Steven Lee one time what the chances were to see a Big Boy in steam on the UP. He told me "I would shoot the first person that even tried to put one wheel of a Big Boy under steam on UP rails" So I don't think it is going to happen at least on the UP..."

For those who might not know who Steve Lee is, Here's a link to a short bio on him:

http://www.southplattepress.com/authors.html

"..Stephen A. Lee of Cheyenne, Wyo., is a 22-year veteran of the railroad industry. He was born and raised virtually beside the Illinois Central tracks in Kentucky, and became an IC locomotive engineer after college. He left the IC in 1977 and went into management on the ill-fated Rock Island. Stephen then jumped to the Union Pacific at Cheyenne, where he is Manager-Train Operating Practices and also manager of UP's steam and historic diesel operations and shops..."

 

 

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by Thomas 9011 on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 1:42 AM

I don't think Union pacific would have the slighest interest in running a Big boy.I have toured their shops many times and they have plenty to keep busy.On top of keeping the 3985 and 844 running they also have three E-9's,the DD40X,and a small switch engine to maintain.They have a old historic roundhouse with various cars and locomotives and a whole fleet of passenger cars to maintain.So adding the addition of of a Big boy to work on is the last thing in the world they want to mess with.

 The Cheyenne depot museum offers visitors a chance to tour the inside the Union pacific steam shops and old roundhouse typically once a year(during Cheyenne depot days).You can check their website here for updates and tours to the roundhouse. http://www.cheyennedepotmuseum.org/events.asp

 

 

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Posted by IRB Souther Engineer on Thursday, April 01, 2010 11:27 AM

Why were Big boys taken out of service so quickly?

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Posted by nwo4rf on Thursday, April 01, 2010 11:56 AM

From what I understand (talking to steven) The Big Boys were great locomotives. But they had one bad trate. They were murder on the rails, ties, and roadbed. They pounded them into oblivian. The UP spent more money on track maintence than on the maintence of the locomotive. I think this is the main reson why you will not see one restored to steam.

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Posted by Thomas 9011 on Friday, April 02, 2010 4:00 AM

The axle load of a big boy is 67,500 lbs per driving axle.Most modern day six axle locomotives weigh around 400,000 pounds more or less or around 66,000 pounds per axle.If you were a rail joint getting pounded by wheels on a locomotive I suppose you wouldn't notice much difference between a big boy running you over as apposed to a C44-9.The big boy simply has more wheels to distribute the weight.You also have to remember it was all section track back then.Most of the Class ones today have welded rail with any joints filled.The Big boys are still a very heavy locomotive.Around 350 tons with out the tender.The locomotive is 85 feet long(about the length of a auto-rack).Thats a lot of weight hitting a curve at 65 mph.

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Posted by betamax on Friday, April 02, 2010 11:03 AM
Thomas 9011

The axle load of a big boy is 67,500 lbs per driving axle.Most modern day six axle locomotives weigh around 400,000 pounds more or less or around 66,000 pounds per axle.If you were a rail joint getting pounded by wheels on a locomotive I suppose you wouldn't notice much difference between a big boy running you over as apposed to a C44-9.The big boy simply has more wheels to distribute the weight.You also have to remember it was all section track back then.Most of the Class ones today have welded rail with any joints filled.The Big boys are still a very heavy locomotive.Around 350 tons with out the tender.The locomotive is 85 feet long(about the length of a auto-rack).Thats a lot of weight hitting a curve at 65 mph.

Standing still, yes. Moving is another story, with all the machinery moving the dynamic augment or "hammer blow" comes into play. At certain speeds it would literally bounce on the rails. A diesel just rolls along, it doesn't hammer the track in the process.

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Posted by BNSFwatcher on Friday, April 02, 2010 4:18 PM

Did anyone document, in print, or on film, the moves of the UP "Big Boy" to Steamtown, from Nebraska (or wherever) to Bellows Falls, VT and, later, to Scranton, PA?  I would find that interesting.  "How'd dey do dat?".

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Posted by Thomas 9011 on Friday, April 02, 2010 11:49 PM

I am glad you brought that up.I think moving a locomotive out of a park that has been sitting for 30 or 40 years is very historical but rarely recorded on film.I have not seen any film of any big boys or other locomotives being pulled to different locations even though there seemed to be many cameras there.I am also equally surprised there is no videos on You tube or elsewhere of the 1218 that was moved along with the 611 to the old Roanoke shops in 2007.I would have thought there would be all kinds of people wanting to films those locomotives moving again.I know the Baltimore railroad museum has moved it's Allegheny before as it was formally outside and now it is inside the shops.I remember reading the Allegheny in the Henry ford museum was put there using its own steam.In 2002 the Forney museum moved its Big boy along wtih a crane,rotary,steam locomotive,and several cars many miles yet there is no video or photographs of the move.I even talked to the owner of the museum and she said they filmed the whole thing but her daughter in California has the video and they have been trouble finding it.

 That move of the Big boy traveling to Vermont would be something.It would be the first time a Big boy would have traveled over those rails and in those states.

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Posted by John Godfrey on Sunday, April 04, 2010 9:36 PM

 I have seen video and pictures of Big Boy #4023 being moved to Kenefick Park in Omaha.  It was 2004 when it was moved by truck.  Here is an album of some photos.

http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/archiveThumbs.aspx?id=3880

It would be neat to see photos or video of their movement when originally donated.

 

John

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Posted by nwo4rf on Monday, April 05, 2010 10:28 AM

Discovery Channel did a documentry on the movement of the BIg Boy in Omaha. I think the series was called Big Machines...or Big Moves...or something like that.

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Posted by BNSFwatcher on Monday, April 05, 2010 11:46 AM

 Cool pics!  I would guess that Kenefick Park had no direct rail connection, ergo the "zillion-wheel" trailers.  Tnx.

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Posted by rebelyank on Saturday, January 27, 2018 7:01 PM

Thomas 9011

I am glad you brought that up.I think moving a locomotive out of a park that has been sitting for 30 or 40 years is very historical but rarely recorded on film.I have not seen any film of any big boys or other locomotives being pulled to different locations even though there seemed to be many cameras there.I am also equally surprised there is no videos on You tube or elsewhere of the 1218 that was moved along with the 611 to the old Roanoke shops in 2007.I would have thought there would be all kinds of people wanting to films those locomotives moving again.I know the Baltimore railroad museum has moved it's Allegheny before as it was formally outside and now it is inside the shops.I remember reading the Allegheny in the Henry ford museum was put there using its own steam.In 2002 the Forney museum moved its Big boy along wtih a crane,rotary,steam locomotive,and several cars many miles yet there is no video or photographs of the move.I even talked to the owner of the museum and she said they filmed the whole thing but her daughter in California has the video and they have been trouble finding it.

 That move of the Big boy traveling to Vermont would be something.It would be the first time a Big boy would have traveled over those rails and in those states.

 

Actually all 25 Big Boys travelled west from New York when new. I have often wondered about these moves. Were any photos taken? Were they under steam or dragged? Were they shipped individually or in groups?

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Posted by 54light15 on Saturday, January 27, 2018 7:46 PM

Funny, reading this old thread about how the UP won't ever return one to steam. Oh yeah? 

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Posted by kgbw49 on Saturday, January 27, 2018 10:33 PM

Multiply this times 8:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XcJIuYb21BM

 

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