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

  • QUOTE: Originally posted by Brak710101

    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.

    Dear Brak710101,
    A new Big Boy costs $265,000 in 1941 money. That's a lot! When a railroad makes that kind of investment, they ensure that the minimum curve a locomotive can go around is a curve that the locomotive would not derail on. Additionally, it is much more likely that some of the wheels would derail, rather than the entire locomotive rolling over.

    Most sincerely and repsectfully yours,
    Daniel Parks
  • Man, why are you denying it. [:(!] I saw it to on MSN. The Big Boy will Ride again![:D]

    QUOTE: Originally posted by bangert1

    QUOTE: Originally posted by trainsrcool

    I went to and some other websites on MSN...............and I saw a page that in the distant future...........The Worlds largest Steam Locomotive may return to the rails. In Cheyenne.........they do have some Operational Big boys in use.[:)][:D]Lets hope that she can return to rails

    The Union Pacific does not own any Big Boys and have not had one on their property since the 4023 was moved to headquarters and then off to the museum. It is awaiting a new home and will be moved again, so it probably will be on the real UP tracks again for a few miles. I would be interested in knowing where you read your information and what year you are referring to.

    The last time this came up was when the BiG Boy at the Age of Steam in Dallas was used by a movie producer to get some publicity for himself. That was about two years ago and the rumors have never stopped. They actually moved the engine back and forth to check the main axle bearings and it was said they would rebuild the engine and use it in a movie. Sorry, that never happened.

    The big story on the Union Pacific web page is the story about the 350 low emissions diesels just ordered, and not a word about one Big Boy that could make up for each and every low emissions diesel.

    I really would like to know where you read the information that you gave.
    Thank you for your reply.
  • You wont ever see a Big Boy again operational.
  • Hello Everybody, I'm a new member and regarding your question to will a Big Boy ever be restored. I was reading somewhere that UP's chief steam administrator said that the UP does not intend on ever restoring a Big Boy . They already have their hands full with the 3985 Challenger. They can only run the 3985 in so many places. There are no turntables left to turn the Big Boy, only a wye. But if a Big Boy was to be restored, it would be my bet that 4014 would be the one. It's in excellent condition from what I know. Hey , I would also love to see a Big Boy roaming the rails again, maybe a doublehader with the Challenger, ( Here I go dreaming again) but anything is possible
  • I've been down to Pomona, where X-4014 is displayed, & let me tell you that
    other than the costs of coal, oil, & water , this guy is in good enough condition to
    operate. The only reason I doubt it will run, is that california has sharp curves & small turn-tables, but heck, SP's cab fowards had no trouble, & niether does the preserved Santa Fe 4-8-4 3751today (true it is smaller). If Doyle can
    restore a pile of scrap, im shure someone can restore an almost brand new 4-8-8-4.

    Ps. Im only 15, which shows the legacy isn't going soon .
  • Ps. Im only 15, which shows the legacy isn't going soon .


    and a Big Boy wont run in your lifetime.
  • No offense but you are 15 and did you do a hydrostatic test on the boiler for integrity? Have you checked the flues for leaks? Have you torn down all the mechanical components to detrmine their ability to be rebuilt? Have you checked the tender for leaks? How about all the slip joints for the articulation? Or does it have a nice coat of paint that hides other issues?
  • ndbprr is right, although I said that the 4014 is the best preserved, does not mean that it's capable of operation again. Just because it has a great paint job and all the bearings and rods are well lubricated (from what I read) does not mean it can operate. There are millions (lol) of problems that can plague a steam locomotive like firebox, flue sheets, smokebox, dry pipe, cracks in the tires, etc, I could go on forever, but if somebody comes forward to donate a few mllion dollars to get the restoration progress going, anything is possible.
  • Paint isn't what makes an engine run obviously ! When I said (good condition) I ment
    no holes in the boiler, cylinders, or tender,(unlike most outdoor display engines in southern CA),& a cab where the controll's anent beat up. I admit, I didn't check the safety valves, the inside of the cylinders, or the injector pump, but heck I wasnt planning to restore it.
  • I know it would have to go through a thourogh checkup, but from Ive seen enough
    to know it isn't impossible. True everything you said, would need to be checked, &
    much more, but like I said its in pretty good condition fron what I saw, including the
    tires & much of the firebox.
  • I'd be willing to bet that the engine if nothing else is wrong and could be fired today is loaded with asbestos insulation. It could cost easily $1,000,000 to just rid the engine of it. It will never run.
  • The cost of the removal of Asbestos on a big boy would cost no where near $1,000,000. Probally the cost of removal would be $50-60 thousand dollars. Removing Asbestos isn't the hard part, it's preparing and cleaning up that is the real cost. I'm a volunteer at Steamtown National Historic site in Scranton, Pa and we have a Boston & Maine 4-6-2 Pacific 3713 under restoration to operational status and the cost of removing the Asbestos for that engine just around $25,000.
  • Ndbprr if I was 90yrs old, I'd doubt if it would run, but im only 15, & if im sucessfull
    in my careerr, I'll find a way. Where there's a will there's a way. I dont know if one
    will but no harm in dreaming, anyways I'm sure if someone were to do it, enough
    people would send in donations to get the project somewhere.
  • It will happen some day! even it is just fired up for once a year and run back and fourth on a section of track, it will still draw crowds because its running!
  • uh, the Big Boys produced over 6,300 hp and had 135,000 lbs, tractive effort, those are conservative ratings, in tests, the Big Boy was able to produce almost 140,000 lbs tractive effort. -"The worlds largest Steam Locomotives"