Want to post a reply to this topic?
Login or register for an acount to join our online community today!

Will the 4-8-8-4 Union Pacific Big Boy ever return to rails?

  • Actually, there is nothing to debate. It never did happen, because it is mathematically impossible to happen.
  • Dear GP40-2 and all,
    I am searching down where I read or saw the contested statement. I will post here when I have some more information.

    Daniel Parks
  • I found a site with some "Record-breaking locomotives" information. It may be what you are looking for.

    Here is what is says on the Big Boys and its large loads:

    Which was the strongest one?

    The world´s strongest steam engines produced in series were the Big Boys of the Union Pacific Railroad. These mallets with the wheel arrangement 2 D D 2 had a lenght of 40.5 m, weighed 545 tons, provided 6000kW, and had a tractive effort of 609 kN. This was sufficient to tow loads of 4000 tons across the climbing slope of the Sherman pass that had a climb of 4.6 %. A Big Boy was even able to keep going a freight train of 650 freight cars that had a weight of 27000 tons and a length of nearly 10 km (32800 feet), after it had been pushed into motion.

    Big Boys were not only big and heavy, they also reached a maximum speed of 130 km/h (80 mph) which was extremely extraordinary for a Mallet of this size. On the plain they led freight trains up to 6000 t, but they also pulled 3200-ton-trains across the 8%-slope between Carter and Green River at an average speed of 78 km/h (48 mph). Among these conditions the heavy giants spent approximately 10 tons of coal so that the 28.5 tons of coal (and 90 t of water) in the seven-axle-tender were spent within hardly three hours. Seven of 25 specimens/pieces built by the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) are preserved in museums.

    The locomotive 4018 that stood in a museum in Dallas, Texas, is actually being restored.

    Some prototypes with the wheel arrangement 1 C C C or 1 D D D had even more power. Unfortunately it's very difficult to get any information about these engines. Two of these engines survived. Presently one of them is kept in the Henry Ford museum in the U.S. A. It weighs 600 t.

    Time will only tell if this settles the debate or adds more fuel to the fire. ;)

  • The last post doesn't settle anything.

    First of all, the post has several holes in it. Sherman Hill does not have a grade of 4.6%, it is less than 1.5%

    I would really love to see that 8% grade mentioned in the next paragraph! I would especially love to see a train climbing a 8% grade at an average of 48 mph!! Wow, that must of been something to see[:D]

    More drug induced make-believe!!!

    The blurb about keeping a 27,000 ton train moving (at slow speed) on level track may be possible. I'll have to do some calculations later. I know that a GE AC6000 is rated at something like 60,000 tons at 10mph on level, tangent track.

    But the debate was whether a Big Boy could move a 5.5 mile long train at 65mph. Like I said before, to move that much tonnage at that speed would require over 60,000HP--even on level track.

    I would also like to see those 1-D-D-D (1-8-8-8-0???) super prototypes[:D]

    That post is so full of holes is is actually FUNNY!!!!

    Math and Physics don't lie, but railfans have the ability to tell some whopper stories.

  • The site I posted that information from obviously had a lot of things in it that weren't accurate. I was posting it for trainjunky29 to help in his quest to find where he saw the claims of the really long train pulled by the Big Boys.

    As to your comments GP40-2, you aren't the only one that understands physics; you may want to tone down your rhetoric a bit. Your posts are designed as much to attack as to inform and that is counter productive.


  • Yes, maybe so. But having heard the same absurd stories repeated for the past 40 years is growing tiresome. What irks me is that some people knowinging spread the lies and fairy tales without even asking themselves if such a thing could physically happen. What purpose does posting lies about the Big Boy serve? Does it make the poster feel superior in some sort of way? Why would anyone want to pass false information around, especially to someone who has just started to have an interest in railroading? I don't get it. It is simply better to just tell the truth instead of making up tall tales. M.W. made a statement in one of his recent posts about how some railfans don't like to hear the truth, and if you point the truth out, they get all outraged for crashing their party.

    If you all want to discuss the good points about the Big Boy, then fine. But can we please keep the B.S. out?
  • I would agree they are tall tales and have little to no basis in fact, but people genuinely seem to like tall tales. I doubt they will pass on anytime soon. It's the story of the big fish (in this case, Big Boy) that got away.

    I think it reflects more upon a person fresh enthusiasm with a new hobby, especially when they are yet to fully understand all the intricate details that we grow to fixate upon as time draws on. In many ways, that enthusiasm for the really big machines that could do amazing things and tower over people is an early draw to trains. Overstating numbers is simply a lack of understanding. It's unlikely to be an attempt to deceive; as you implied, that would serve little purpose.

    It's a good thing to correct people in a positive way. Attracting people to the hobby can only help us all in the long run.

  • Wow! I love a good argument. This is how we all learn diffrent things. However, I do not agree that a BigBoy could pull a train of that weight at any speed. Plus the BigBoy was NOT the largest, heaviest, and most powerful steam locomotive in the world..........The alleganies where.. (Cant spell.sorry)

    I do believe that not to long ago a train of approx 5.5 miles in length was done in australia. does anyone have a line on this???????

    and if you want power go get yourself a U.P. BigBlows Turbine 8500-10,000HP
    thats power!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • The train you are talking about was an ore train. It had 600+cars, weighed over 100,000 tons and was powered by 8 GE AC6000s. It set the new world record for train size.
  • I should have brought this up on my previous post on this thread, but I don't think that 5 1/2 miles is the length of the train but is instead the distance covered in acceleration from a standing stop to the speed mentioned.
    The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
  • Dear Run8Highball,
    While I sit here (my search is ongoing for proof/the origin of my statement--I'm not running away, it's just taking awhile), I might as well join one more argument. I believe the Big Boy to be the largest. Here is why (copied from a different thread):

    BIG BOYS FOREVER!!! I, being a Union Pacific fan naturally support the Big Boys. But instead of basing my arguement solely on that, I have a great deal of evidence to support my conclusion that the Big Boys were better:

    Firstly, in the arena of size, I do not dispute the fact that the Big Boy engine itself weighed less than the Allegheny. However, the Big Boy with tender weighed appreciably more than the Allegheny. Furthermore, and even more importantly, the Big Boys had the greater adhesive weight (weight of the locomotive supported on the driving wheels), in part because the firebox was suppoted over the last two driving axles in addition to the four wheel trailing truck. Why this greater adhesive weight is relevant is that the adhesive weight affects the factor of adhesion, giving the 4000 class more "grip" on the rails. And don't think that locomotives as large as the 4000 class and Allegheny didn't have wheel slippage: they did, and I can prove it. Furthermore, the Big Boys were larger in other ways: they were longer, and more.
    Secondly, in the area of pulling power, I of course acknowledge the Allegheny's greater horse-power. But let us not forget that the Big Boys had a much greater tractive effort. And while there were some locomotives with greater tractive effort, no locomotive had greater tractive effort and horse-power.
    However, railroads have locomotives to pull trains, not to brag about having the largest locomotive. As such, we should pay even more attention to the Big Boy's and Allegheny's perforance and service than their basic specifications. The 4000 class locomotives were very reliable, and were very efficient and relatively inexpensive to operate and maintain for locomotives of their immensity. Of course, those who wi***o detract from the Big Boy's legacy point out that they burned up to 12 tons of coal per hour and used thousands of gallons of water in the course of a run. But what they conveniently omit is what a cost savings these beloved 4-8-8-4s were to the Uncle Pete. The largest locomotive of all time probably saved the Union Pacific millions of dollars by eliminating the crew costs of double heading, the extra maintenance costs of many helper locomotives, and the time lost in the turning and servicing of these helpers. At the time that the Big Boys were being scrapped, a Union Pacific employee said "these locomotives don't owe this railroad a thing," to paraphrase him.
    And then let us also account for the 4000 class's legacy and reputation. What other locomotive has routinely hauled five and one-half mile long trains at speeds exceeding 65 miles per hour? And of course we all know of these locomotives literally shaking the ground as they passed. Don't believe me? Get the Pentrex video on the Big Boys: it has footage where the ground shook so much the camera shook as well! And of course, the world's longest train of all time was pulled by dobleheading Big Boys-7 and 1/2 miles of train, although we sadly cannot prove it.
    I hope I have demonstrated to you that the Big Boys really were superior. I encourage all Union Pacific fans, all supporters of the Big boys, and anyone else who agrees with me to post here stating so--especially those of you with Big Boy in your screen names. I am of course not saying that the Allegheny type locomotives should be ignored, only that the Big Boys be given the title they have certainly earned in the past 60 years. And, if you have a different opinion, please post it here: I do not consider my conclusions so weak that they cannot withstand debate, and I am never afraid of hearing someone elses side.

    Long live the Big Boy legacy,
  • Even if the steamer may make the curves, the railroad will not want to waste money and time to clean up the mess if something does happen. Also if a big-boy roller over and the boiler blew, big boom. No more crew. Not good.
  • QUOTE: Originally posted by Run8Highball

    Wow! I love a good argument. This is how we all learn diffrent things. However, I do not agree that a BigBoy could pull a train of that weight at any speed. Plus the BigBoy was NOT the largest, heaviest, and most powerful steam locomotive in the world..........The alleganies where.. (Cant spell.sorry)

    I do believe that not to long ago a train of approx 5.5 miles in length was done in australia. does anyone have a line on this???????

    and if you want power go get yourself a U.P. BigBlows Turbine 8500-10,000HP
    thats power!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    WOW!! It sounds like we have another Allegheny fan in the house!! Yes, I love Allegheny's I do also agree w/ ya that the Alleghenys were the most powerful steam locos out there. Here are some facts as to why the H8 2-6-6-6s were more powerful than the 4-8-8-4s. Ok
    Max Drawbar H.P. for the Allegheny 7,498. Max drawbar hp for the Big Boy 6,300
    max drawbar hp speed Allegheny 42mph. Big Boy 40mph. Plus the total heating surface for the Allegheny was greater 10,426 vs. 8155.
    LORD HELP US ALL TO BE ORIGINAL AND NOT CRISPY!!! please? Sarah J.M. Warner conductor CSX
  • Tom Thumb can pull a 5 mile train...

  • So tell me again, how many angels dance on the head of a pin?