Big Boy Back in Steam

Big Boy Back in Steam

Big Boy - Back in Steam covers the history, restoration, and inaugural runs of Union Pacific Big Boy 4-8-8-4 No. 4014 on its original operating territory.

United States
Kalmbach Publishing Co. - Magazines


bringing back the big boy

WE ARE LIVING A DREAM. America has long been about the biggest or best. In the area of railway preservation, Union Pacific has bestowed an amazing gift in the form of an operating Big Boy in May 2019. The restored locomotive is a gift of great magnitude to the 150th anniversary of the first transcontinental railroad. Best of all, this is only the start of the next chapter in the history of the world’s largest operating steam locomotive, 4-8-8-4 No. 4014. We’ll see this giant roaming the land for years. Those of us who have spent a lifetime admiring steam locomotives are grateful to Union Pacific and especially to the UP steam crew for its heroic restoration of this King of the Rails. Those who will be drawn to the…

birth of a legend

NOW THAT UNION PACIFIC’S restoration of Big Boy No. 4014 is complete and the 4-8-8-4 is active again, admirers of this huge machine would do well to remember two names: Otto Jabelmann and William Jeffers. You could consider them the fathers of this amazing, unique locomotive that was one of the most successful articulated steam locomotives in North America. The story of the Big Boy locomotive is a tale of human ingenuity and innovation, rapidly changing technology, and the eternal enchantment with overwhelming power. Jeffers, as Union Pacific’s president in 1940, instructed Jabelmann’s Research and Mechanical Standards Department to design and build larger motive power to conquer the grades of the Wasatch Mountain range east of Ogden, Utah. Jabelmann was the perfect man for the task, as he had been instrumental in…

the big boy story

1940 UP President William Jeffers asks his research and mechanical standards department for bigger power to tackle grades and tonnage in the Wasatch Mountains. 1941 SUMMER Railroad eases curves, installs heavy rail to accommodate the new power. SEPTEMBER • American Locomotive Co. completes Big Boy No. 4000, the first of 20 such locomotives. • The locomotives generate more than 500 news stories while en route via Delaware & Hudson, New York Central, and Chicago & North Western. NOVEMBER Alco finishes No. 4014. DECEMBER No. 4014 arrives on UP property. 1940s Big Boys muscle wartime traffic across the U.S., averaging 7,000 miles per month. 1943 Big Boys No. 4004, 4014, and 4016 are tested against a three-unit set of diesel locomotives. 1944 Alco builds five additional Big Boys, Nos. 4020-4024. 1959 JULY 20 & 21, 1959 • No. 4014 completes its final revenue freight run from Laramie, Wyo., to Cheyenne, Wyo.,…

decoding the cab-side data

4-8-8-4 is the Whyte classification wheel arrangement: A four-wheel pilot truck, followed by eight driving wheels, followed by another eight driving wheels, and a four-wheel trailing truck. 1 following the wheel arrangement indicates the first subclass of that wheel arrangement. 68 is the outside diameter in inches of new driving wheel tires, excluding the flange. 23¾ 23¾ above the fraction bar indicates the inside diameter of the front and rear cylinders; 32 below the bar is their piston stroke length, all in inches. 540 is the total weight on drivers in thousands of pounds (540,000 pounds) MB identifies the stoker as a modified type B. —Gordon McCulloh, UP steam historian…

urban legends of the wasatch

THE BIG BOYS WERE denizens of some of the most remote places in America, but they still generated their share of urban legends. One such story involves Adolph Hitler, whose spies are said to have told him of huge locomotives, capable of handling heavy trains through the Rocky Mountains at high speed. It’s undeniably intriguing to think that history’s greatest villain might have obsessed over this symbol of American industrial might, but it doesn’t seem to be true. Steve Lee, former head of Union Pacific’s steam program, heard stories about German prisoners of war passing through Cheyenne, allegedly awed and dispirited at the sight of doubleheaded 4000s charging forth to do battle with Sherman Hill. One of the captives was heard to mutter that, “any nation that could build something like…

big boy inside out

WHEN UNION PACIFIC train crews first looked at Big Boy No. 4014 in 1941, they had to be impressed. Before them was a 600-ton, 132-foot, 7,000-hp machine designed to climb long mountain grades with 3,600-ton freight trains and flat out run at 70 mph. Inside and out, Big Boy is an over-the-top bit of rolling genius. With this cutaway drawing you can follow coal and water as they’re converted to 300 psi steam that is used to move four sets of pistons to drive 16 68-inch-diameter Boxpok-type drivers. Note the carefully constructed package, designed to fit into the railroad’s profile. © 2019 Kalmbach Media Co., TRAINS: Rick Johnson Thanks to John Bush and Robert Lettenberger…