• Union Pacific looking to restore a Big Boy to operationN

  • Discussion about the Union Pacific operations past and present. Official site can be found here: UPRR.COM.
Discussion about the Union Pacific operations past and present. Official site can be found here: UPRR.COM.

Moderator: GOLDEN-ARM

  by Leo_Ames
 
Not sure what the exact accepted procedure is here for posting a link at this forum, but here's an opening quote from Trains Magazine's newswire for today...

"Union Pacific Railroad has had conversations with the Southern California Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society to obtain and restore its ex-UP 4-8-8-4 Big Boy, No. 4014. The museum's board is scheduled to meet Dec. 8 and plans to vote on the proposal from the railroad to buy the locomotive, says a source familiar with the matter."

http://trn.trains.com/en/Railroad%20New ... rvice.aspx

The rest is locked to subscriber's, but that's the meat of the story. Very exciting news even though it's best to take it cautiously. I suppose there's always the chance they got hacked by some rail nut with a odd sense of humor. Or their source could be unreliable. And even if true, it sounds like several things have to fall in place just right (The museum approving it for starters and then I imagine it will require approval internally at Union Pacific after that). And then there's always the unknowns that may crop up even if the project starts up like any condition issues with the locomotive that might come to light when they start disassembling her, economic issues putting a hold on the project, etc.

But it's the closest we've gotten to this point in 52 years and that's something at the very least. And no, it's not April 1st and you didn't somehow lose 5 months of time. It's still December.

At least something nice is happening on December 7th.
  by Vakharn
 
I find it very hard to believe that UP is considering restoring a Big Boy. Yes, it would be a marvelous PR move but every time anyone talks about the likelihood of restoring one of the true giants like the Big Boy or the Allegheny or a DM&IR 2-8-8-4 the first thing that always comes up is no modern railroad would allow a beast like that on their track because of the damage it would do. Axle loadings on these locomotives were very high, the reciprocating forces do more damage to the track, and they generally are spreading a large load across a relatively smaller area than a diesel or conventional freight equipment which could be dangerous some bridges.

Don't get me wrong, I would love it if any railroad brought another articulated into service, and seeing something like a Big Boy under steam again is an experience I would travel across the country for, but this doesn't sound remotely possible to me.
  by Leo_Ames
 
I was just passing along what was posted by a legitimate source at a legitimate website. If they think there was enough validity in it to reveal it today in their Newswire, I think that's an exciting development.

I've never even heard of a rumor about a Yellowstone or Allegheny being restored to operation. And the closest I've ever heard of such a thing in regards to a Big Boy was when a movie studio was supposedly considering restoration of one back 10+ years ago.

Considering that they operate a slightly smaller cousin of the Big Boy, I don't see it as completely out of question even though I think some skepticism is warranted. Like I said, I'm sure a lot of things have to fall into place just right for this thing to be seen through completion. But it does seem like more than just a mere rumor even though the end result could very well end up the same with nothing happening.

Here's some more information.

http://cs.trains.com/trc/f/1/t/212514.aspx

If it's all true and everything, I d hope they would consider finally giving their Baldwin 2-10-2 a home after over half a century of storage to take the place of the locomotive they acquire. They were pretty impressive looking machines in their own right and would help fill the hole that the loss of a Big Boy would create.
  by amtrakowitz
 
Most sources, when referring to the sole oil-fired Big Boy (#4005), agree that it was not a success mostly due to having a single burner. How does UP intend to rectify that problem from well over half a century ago? At least 3985's oil burner was from another Challenger that was successfully converted to oil burning.
  by Leo_Ames
 
Even if it's less than perfect, she's not going to be hauling several mile long freight trains over Sherman Hill day in and day out. So I would think being slightly less efficient than they'd desire isn't necessarily an issue where as it would've been a more significant problem back around 1950 if it meant less tonnage she'd be rated to haul.

Here's a posting from a email group from Steve Lee I just found on Google from the late 1990's that doesn't make it sound like it would be a major problem.

"You are referring to the 4005, which was converted to oil in the late
1940's. It was involved in a wreck at Red Desert, WY afterward and
when it was repaired it was converted back to coal.

The firebox is not too big per se, but extra steps had to be taken to
make this work right, and since there was no precendent for converting
a firebox that large, much of the work was by trial and error. This
included the size and shape of the firepan, placement of the burner,
location and size of air openings and damper, etc. The locomotive
steamed very well by the accounts of those who fired it when it was in
oil. One problem was hot-spotting on the crown sheet directly above
the burner, which caused leaking crown stays. There were several ways
to address this particular problem, including reinstalling the arch
brick immediately above the burner to protect the crown sheet. Several
railroads with oil-fired locomotives with large fireboxes performed
tests and experiments in this regard to solve localized problems, and
much of the results of these tests were reported at the meetings of the
Master Mechanics Association, the Boilermakers Association, and other
professional gatherings.

The main problem with 4005, and the one that would have been the most
expensive to solve, was that if UP intended to convert the class to
oil, it would have to install at least 7 or 8 new oil fueling
facilities across the territories where the 4000's operated. The oil
tank on the 4005, which was identical to those on the oil-fired
4-6-6-4's in the 3-5 series of those locomotives, held 5,945 gallons,
of which about 5,700 gallons was usable. This is because the tank was
designed to fit into the existing coal space on the tender; to have
made the tank larger would have required sacrificing some of the water
capacity, which was not acceptable.

Coal chutes were located at approximately 40-mile intervals across,
Wyoming and Utah (this was before the 4-8-8-4's began running to
Denver), but oil fuel facilities were located at 75 to 125 mile
intervals. A 4000 with a heavy train, or even a moderate train bucking
high winds, or one that had extensive delays enroute, usually was
unable to make those distances on one tank of fuel, which lead to
putting the train in a siding, cutting the engine off and running for
fuel, then going back for the train, and so forth. It didn't happen
every trip (and it sometimes happened with other classes of power,
too), but it happened often enough to make people realize that for this
to be successful, a large investment in wayside fuel tanks, tank and
pipe heaters, piping, and spouts would be needed in multiple track
territory, (which all of the territory in question is), this can get
very expensive, along with the maintenance costs of those new
facilties.

So, I wouldn't say it can't be done, just that it didn't work as
planned the first time it was tried.

Steve Lee"


And recall that their steam program burned coal for many years. The Challenger even did for its first several years of operation in the 1980's in fact. So I don't think that is a non option even though I'm sure that's not the direction they'd want to go in.
  by Tom6921
 
I too hope it's true. I've sent an email to a friend who is a conductor in the Chicago area. He hasn't heard anything, but he said he'd look around in the next couple weeks.
  by Espee9180
 
More Info:

"POMONA, Calif. – We will have to wait at least until later this week to learn more about what Union Pacific is offering a Southern California railroad club for its 4-8-8-4 Big Boy steam locomotive, which would become a full restoration project. But we do know that an equipment trade for the Big Boy displayed in California would not include UP steam fleet superstar 4-6-6-4 No. 3985, which is under rebuild at the company's steam shop in Cheyenne, Wyo..."


"...first excursion with the Big Boy, which would be restored in time for the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. That anniversary comes May 10, 2019....





http://trn.trains.com/en/Railroad%20New ... talks.aspx
  by Leo_Ames
 
Another bit of exciting news that was stated there but hidden from non subscribers is that if it's successfully acquired, the locomotive will be moved in early 2013.

Such a movement should clear a lot of skepticism of what sounds like a very ambitious project that almost sounds too good to be true. Going to be hard to believe they're not serious about this if they're going to moving her to somewhere like Cheyenne all the from from the West Coast.
  by Greg
 
Vakharn wrote:...the first thing that always comes up is no modern railroad would allow a beast like that on their track because of the damage it would do.
The Union Pacific mainlines are 110-130 pound rail, the Big Boys occasionally ran in the Denver area on 90 pound rail.
Axle loadings on these locomotives were very high, the reciprocating forces do more damage to the track, and they generally are spreading a large load across a relatively smaller area than a diesel or conventional freight equipment which could be dangerous some bridges.
The majority of damage to track work comes from hitting the rail joints which modern continiously welded rail does not have. The 4000 class had a weight on drivers of 540,000 pounds spread across 16 wheels and a SD-90 MAC has 420,000 pounds spread over 12 wheels (33,750 per wheel versus 35,000 per wheel respectively). Additionally a modern diesel has a higher tractive effort, the 4000s have 135,000 punds and the SD90s 147,000 pounds, this also being spread over less wheels.

Another often mentioned misconception is clearance. The 4000s have 3/8" more overhand than the 3985 and with modern trackwork having wider clearances due to crew-walking regulations this would never be a factor.

The only thing in my opinion that would prevent this from coming to frution is money.