Skip to comments.Huge Big Boy steam locomotive coming back to life
Posted on 04/15/2014 4:27:36 PM PDT by Navy Patriot
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) In its prime, a massive steam locomotive known as Big Boy No. 4014 was a moving eruption of smoke and vapor, a 6,300-horsepower brute dragging heavy freight trains over the mountains of Wyoming and Utah.
It's been silent for half a century, pushed aside by more efficient diesels, but now it's coming back to life. The Union Pacific Railroad is embarking on a yearslong restoration project that will put No. 4014 back to work pulling special excursion trains.
"It's sort of like going and finding the Titanic or something that's just very elusive, nothing that we ever thought would happen," said Jim Wrinn, editor of Trains, a magazine that covers the railroad industry.
"Something that's so large and powerful and magnificent, we didn't think any of them would ever come back," he said.
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It is truly a rush to drive one of these engines.
I say that’s great news.
You an engineer? I’ve chased the 3985 and 4449 and 2472 around. Stayed up all night and driven insane drives for a good shot. :-)
I am not a particular railroad buff but there really is something about those old steam engines which is impressive as all get out.
I have read that nuclear powered ships are technically steam powered as the atomic material is used to create the steam.
I visited the Henry Ford Museum in Greenfield MI when I was a kid. There were a bunch of locomotives that were a wall of iron to me. (I was about 8.)
Steam locomotives were not replaced due to lack of power or speed, but for the increased efficiency and ease of maintenance of diesels. Those old engines pulled hard and were damn fast.
22 minutes but there are shorter ones.
The boiler’s fired by coal. Look for the EPA to shut down this project ASAP.
there is one in Scranton Pa
and one in the Midwest Rail museum
(Big Boys that is)
They were all over the place when I was a kid.
They were filthy.
IIRC today’s engines are driven by electric motors.
Yes, they are...and diesel motors turn the electric turbines.
Diesel was my favorite when playing Thomas with my son! We both drive diesel trucks now! lol
They’re slowed down by electric motors, too.
I are an engineer, but not a railroad engineer.
Fortunately, my uncle spent his life driving for the Santa Fe, and I was able to drive a couple of their best big steam under his watchful eye.
I saw them (big steam engines) at the Railroad Fair in Chicago in 1949 and in films. Never lived near enough to railroad tracks to see them.
I recall watching a TV documentary about the UP firing up a Big Boy for a run from Denver to Cheyenne, WY. Does the UP have another Big Boy in running condition???
You be right, just remember, there are two loops so irradiated water is never outside the shielding.
Highly recommend the White Pass & Yukon Route out of Skagway Alaska ! Breathtaking narrow guage ride through Alaska’s mountains.
Have the HO version of the steam engine and matching old-fashioned Pullmans and caboose. “Skagway River” line.
What did Santa Fe have- some kind of huge, insane 2-10-10-2 or something? SP nut myself, but big steam is always awesome to watch.
Oh, super narrow-gauge fan. North Pacific Coast 3’ gauge, in particular.
There are probably about half a dozen that can be put in running condition with a complete overhaul, I don’t know how many UP owns, most were donated to various historical societies.
“nuclear powered ships are technically steam powered”
Anything nuclear powered is done so through steam.
Yes they did, SF did a lot of experimentation.
the eternally hot core flashes water to steam to drive the turbines which drive the generators which drive the electricity.
Love old ‘two streaks of rust’ NG lines. get to drive anything cool?
None of these are currently running but an example of the slightly smaller “Challenger” series loco can be seen in action by searching for “UP 3985” on YouTube. Still a massive 1 MM lb+ plus behemoth, absolutely awesome barreling across Wyoming at 70 mph. There are also some archival pieces of the 40xx Big Boys.
The St Vrain nuclear power plant used helium to transfer heat form the core to the steam side. It is a conventional power plant now.
Most nuclear power stations use pressurized water reactors. The primary coolant is water that is prevented from vaporising by keeping it under tremendous pressure. As it passes through the reactor its temperature rises by only a few degrees. It then passes through a steam generator where it heats unpressurized water into steam. This is relatively low grade steam and the turbines are specially designed for it.
As a matter of fact, if the water in the primary coolant loop starts getting vapor in it, it becomes suddenly very inefficient at absorbing heat from the reactor, and you've got a big problem.
There are two in a railroad museum in northern Illinois. I visited it about 15 years ago and got some pictures of my children sitting on the them. These machines were truly awe-inspiring. I got the same feeling from looking at them and touching them that I got from watching a rocket take off. Even silent and rusted, power radiated from them. I am so pleased someone is bringing one back to life. Seeing it move will be a tremendous thrill.
They have a huge collection and a few years ago built a roundhouse. Steam engines from around the country are sent to Greenfield Village for repairs.
Yep. And I effed up, it’s in Dearborn. I knew that.
This massive train engine was on display in California at the LA county fair for years — we climbed all over it, sat in the engineer’s seat and marveled at how huge it was. We imagined ourselves driving the thing over the Sierra Nevada mountains, how magnificent it must have been!
This past Sept. at the fair, there were a bunch of young guys working on it - we asked what was up and they said they were going to take the train to Wyoming and get it back in working order (they told it would take two years).
I hated to see it go because it was such a marvel of engineering and pure power. The diesel engineers who were working on the train said it would be fixed up so people could ride on it, that it would be making excursions.
Sigh. Guess we’ll have to travel to Wyoming to see it in action (it’ll be worth it.) Only wish dad were alive to see it fired up...
I got to visit the UP 4014 while it was at West Colton yards. I think it is still there but is about to leave for Wyoming. They will be coverting it to oil fired by droping a new oil tank in where the coal used to go.
I got to talk with the people who will be doing the work and who will be behind the controls when it gets to be operational. There are like 8 of them still in existance across the country but this one was in the best shape. Being in Southern California helped in the preservation.
We were also told at the fair by the docents, when this particular train was on display for years, that it caused prairie fires as it roared across the plains — there were so many sparks coming from the stack.
The young engineers working on it said THAT had to be dealt with b/c it would never be allowed to “fire up” if it shot out sparks as it did in the old days.
Must have been a wonder to see that thing roaring down the tracks.
The guys who were working on this train when we were visiting it at the LA County fair said all but two were ripped apart for scrap (!!).
They told us the only other one left is in St. Louis in a museum.
Isn’t it, diesel “engine”, turns the electric “generator” to power the electric “motors”.
If its the same one, they have a total of 25 steam engines now, in Union Illinois, they give rides on fully restored trains.
Even diesels can really roar. I once watched as 12 engines pulled a large train up the Swannanoah Gap at Ridgecrest which is right at the top.
There were 5 in front, 5 in the middle and 2 pushing. They were all running flat out and it was an impressive sight. Even with 12 engines roaring, it was not going fast at all.
For the longest time if you needed a part fabricated, it could be ordered from the Datong Locomotive Works in China, as they were still making steamers until recently.
My sister and I rode D&H steam locomotives chug a chugs up with the engineers together with our grandfather, in 1944.