UP Big Boy Restoration

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WhoozOn1st

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Talks have been underway between Union Pacific and the SoCal chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society (http://rlhs.org/) regarding a possible trade for one of the 8 remaining 4-8-8-4 "Big Boy" steam locomotives for the purpose of U.P. restoring the machine to operation.

Trains magazine subscribers can view a number of online articles in the News Wire features, and this one is available with no log-in necessary:

Union Pacific studying Big Boy restoration project

http://trn.trains.co...878CDE995B&_z=z

"[uP] Company spokesman Mark Davis told Trains News Wire Friday that the company has been approached by and is working with a third party interested in restoring and operating a Big Boy. He said the railroad is evaluating the condition of preserved UP Big Boy locomotives and that it believes two might be available for restoration. Davis declined to name the other party or give a timeline for the project. But at least one organization is already talking about its potential to put a Big Boy back on the main line.

"In an exclusive interview with Trains News Wire, John Mastrobuoni from Prescott, Ariz., said the Southern California Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society is eager to find out if the railroad can meet its requirement that a replacement piece take the place of the Big Boy at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona. The engine is one of eight survivors of the 25 locomotives that Alco built beginning in 1941 for freight service between Cheyenne, Wyo., and Ogden, Utah until the last steamed in 1959."

Team Whooz had the pleasure of visiting one of the candidates, No. 4014, at it's display home in the L.A. County Fairplex at Pomona during the 2011 L.A. County Fair. 4014 and other engines on display at Pomona have a monthly open house, so with this pending trade in the air Team Whooz hopes to get over there soon for closer inspection of this fine locomotive that with a little luck and a lot of work might see steam again in the foreseeable future.

EDIT: Another Trains item with no log-in required is this rundown of the 8 surviving Big Boys:

Where are the Union Pacific Big Boys now?

http://trn.trains.com/en/Railroad%20Reference/Hot%20Spots/2012/12/Where%20are%20the%20Union%20Pacific%20Big%20Boys%20now.aspx





Union Pacific "Big Boy" No. 4014. One of 8 Big Boys on display around the country, the 4-8-8-4 (or 4-8-0+0-8-4) 1941 Baldwin coal burner was built for the steep grade of UP's original Sherman Hill alignment in Wyoming; top speed 68 mph.

 
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printman2000

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UP's Challenger has been out of service for a long time. I have heard speculation that something is very wrong with it leading UP to consider this Big Boy restoration in its place.
 

WhoozOn1st

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Where is 4014 stored? Surely not out in the elements?
As the photo above shows, 4014 is indeed outdoors and open to the elements. Seeing as how it's southern California, however, the elements are relatively mild. The location is L.A. County's Fairplex fairgrounds in Pomona. The second link in the original post leads to a rundown of locations and storage situations for all 8 surviving Big Boys.
 

Blackwolf

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UP's Challenger has been out of service for a long time. I have heard speculation that something is very wrong with it leading UP to consider this Big Boy restoration in its place.
Whats wrong with #3985? Granted, it has been out of the public eye for some time, leaving #844 to be the locomotive that UP sends out for all of the steam events lately. I cannot find any news of there being trouble for the Challenger, aside from the issues in 2008 which were supposedly fixed in 2010.

Loosing the Challenger to have a Big Boy would temper my enthusiasm quite a bit. :unsure:
 
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WhoozOn1st

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Before trying to hunt down any rumors about 3985 being badly hurt or a Big Boy being restored to take the Challenger's place, I'll recall that the UP locomotive was quite a sight in the morning sun at St. Louis when visited by AU during Gathering IV (October 2010), and a stirring view when caught crossing the Mississippi the next morning. Intriguing hearsay, though...









 

BNSFboy

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UP's Challenger has been out of service for a long time. I have heard speculation that something is very wrong with it leading UP to consider this Big Boy restoration in its place.
3985 is still working and there is nothing wrong with it. It is just going through its 15 year FRA inspection and other maintenance, and this is coming from one of the members of the steam crew I talked to while the 844 was in Amarillo, Texas.
 

Swadian Hardcore

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UP's Challenger has been out of service for a long time. I have heard speculation that something is very wrong with it leading UP to consider this Big Boy restoration in its place.
3985 is still working and there is nothing wrong with it. It is just going through its 15 year FRA inspection and other maintenance, and this is coming from one of the members of the steam crew I talked to while the 844 was in Amarillo, Texas.
That's a relief! Now just looking for that Big Boy for a trio of steamers!
 

cirdan

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I saw the one in Dallas and staff at the museum there told me that their's was probably in the best condition orf all remaining Big Boys as it had had a major overhaul and repair not too long before being retired (maybe that was just wishful thinking though, seeing this example hasn't been mentioned in this discussion yet). Looking closer, I saw that the motion had been partly torched (they told me due to a derailment) and lots of smaller bits like valves, gauges and pipes were missing (maybe pocketed by souvenir hunters?). But I guess this is nothing that can't be put right. Maybe several locomotives can be dismantled to provide a pool of parts to get one working? The bad parts can then be put back together to make display locomotives so no locomotive is actually lost.
 

amtrakwolverine

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One of the issues was moving the locomotive since it can't fit on today's tight curves so they are also looking for one that's the easiest to get to the shop.
 

printman2000

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UP's Challenger has been out of service for a long time. I have heard speculation that something is very wrong with it leading UP to consider this Big Boy restoration in its place.
3985 is still working and there is nothing wrong with it. It is just going through its 15 year FRA inspection and other maintenance, and this is coming from one of the members of the steam crew I talked to while the 844 was in Amarillo, Texas.
I hope they are right. It has just been idle for a pretty long time (over two years) with no official news of it moving in the future.
 

printman2000

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UP's Challenger has been out of service for a long time. I have heard speculation that something is very wrong with it leading UP to consider this Big Boy restoration in its place.
3985 is still working and there is nothing wrong with it. It is just going through its 15 year FRA inspection and other maintenance, and this is coming from one of the members of the steam crew I talked to while the 844 was in Amarillo, Texas.
I hope they are right. It has just been idle for a pretty long time (over two years) with no official news of it moving in the future.
UP's site says...

Prior to the Missouri River Eagle/Sedalia Sesquicentennial Special in 2010, No. 3985 had been shop-bound for routine maintenance since 2008.
So it was in the shop for two years, then did a run, and has now been in the shop for two more years. Sounds like more than just 15 year inspections to me.

Listed in the wikipedia page, it says...

According to the UP Steam Volunteers the "Challenger" will not be operating until 2016 or later.
I know, not the most trusted source, but still.
 
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So...

the evidence/conjecture is that Challenger needs some serious work.

So...

I'll conjecture further that UP might be 'weighing its options' about whether it would be cheaper/more cost effective to resurrect a Big Boy or bite the bullet and get the work on Challenger done. One has to admit the goodwill from bringing a Big Boy back to life sure would be pretty great. :rolleyes:

And to go completely off the deep end: :eek:hboy:

Like it will ever happen - hey, there were rumors once - but if only CSX would restore C&O's Allegheny #1604, which is housed at the B&O Museum, there could be some seriously fun competition to see who's boss!! :lol:
 

BNSFboy

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I just remember that the steam crew member said that they were replacing all of the firebox pipes and more then likely they will use this time to make other repairs. The wheels might get sent to a shop somewhere to get refitted and probably the cab will get redone. You also have to remember that the steam crew does its own maintenance on the engines and they aren't around all of the year, which is why it might take so long to get it rebuilt.
 

WhoozOn1st

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According to the UP Steam Volunteers the "Challenger" will not be operating until 2016 or later.
A close reread of that first linked article in the original post shows that 3985 is indeed undergoing a major overhaul. Also noted there, and in a couple other places in some of the Trains subscriber-only stuff, is that the target for getting 4014 (or any Big Boy?) operational would be 2019, the sesquicentennial of the first transcontinental railroad.

A News Wire item that appeared 1-2-13 noted that discussions continue with the Pomona outfit, with factions both in favor of and opposed to a deal with U.P.:

"Some members are in favor of having the locomotive back under steam again, which also means returning it to Union Pacific. Chapter members in favor of a trade feel that the primary benefit, not only for the chapter, but also for the public in general, is that people will be able to see a Big Boy in action.

"Others are adamant that the removal of the Big Boy would weaken the position of the chapter as a viable museum. They believe that the absence of the No. 4014 will negatively impact visitor attendance to Pomona. In addition, there are concerns that if the Union Pacific operates the locomotive, the chapter would not receive appropriate recognition for its efforts."

Also...

"Union Pacific has apparently indicated that, in case a deal with the Pomona cannot be reached, the railroad has other options. That is widely regarded to mean that there are Big Boys elsewhere in the country that are potential restoration candidates."

More to the item than that, but those are the main points, other than at this point there is no offer on the table and that discussions are merely "exploratory."
 
B

Ben Deutschman

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Any further news on this rumor, or is it a dead duck like the last supposed Big Boy restoration story that never came to fruition?
 

MikefromCrete

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Any further news on this rumor, or is it a dead duck like the last supposed Big Boy restoration story that never came to fruition?
Apparently still in the negotiation stage between UP and the railroad museum. It's not a rumor, though, the talks are real, but the outcome is not yet known. UP seems to want to put a Big Boy back in operation as part of its 150th anniversary celebration. There are a number of Big Boys on display around the country, but the California one may be in the best shape due to the climate.
 
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Any further news on this rumor, or is it a dead duck like the last supposed Big Boy restoration story that never came to fruition?
There is an article on page 62 of the March 2013 issue of Trains magazine about this. Sounds like at the time the article was written, negotiations were still going on.

I found the article noteworthy for the news (Which maybe I missed) that UP is acting on behalf of an unnamed third party; and for the comments by Steve Sandberg of Friends of 261 (Who just went through rebuilding Milwaukee Road's 261 (a 4-8-4) and Robert Franzen of the Grand Canyon Railway, Iowa Interstate.
 
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