Friday, May 9, 2014


I started young when I was taken to the Edinburgh Museum which was full of early steam engines and working models that turned when you pressed buttons. I went to school behind steam locomotives at first crossing the the Forth rail bridge to Edinburgh then on much more mundane tracks to Dollar.

I have been to the York Railway Museum several times and I know my Gresley from my GWR.

I made a special trip to see the Mallard in steam and have tapped wheels, topped up oilers and even fired a boiler from cold at Great Central Railway when I was in Loughborough.
So when we were in the RV in Utah it was no surprise that you found me at a model railway show. I was wandering around the steam engines on display when I saw this totally ludicrous piece of over the top model engineering art. Now the Mallard is a 4 6 2 which means 4 non driven wheels 6 driving wheels and 2 more non driven, but this thing had 4 non driven then 8 driving wheels followed by ANOTHER 8 driving wheels then 4 non driven. I mean I know things are bigger in the USA but this seemed extreme. Talking to people I learned that this was a model of a real but rare engine which was developed to haul trains over the gradients in Utah. So the same hills I have been skiing over spawned this behemoth of an engine. I asked if any were still in use but was told that the last Big Boy went out of service in 1959 and now were on static display. So the closest I could get to a moving experience was to enjoy a ride around when it was the turn of the model Big Boy to pull the punters.

I duly added the term Big Boy to my internet watch list and over the last 5 years have grown tired of deleting references to outsize sex toys.

But I was excited when I saw that there was going to be a project to restore a Big Boy to working order.

Here she is on the move after 50+ years rolling down the tracks on her way to the engine sheds in Cheyenne.

This stuff excites and interests me so I guess I really am an anorak.

Thanks to Lander resident Paige Brewer for sharing this action photo of the historic Big Boy 4014 riding the rails in southeast Wyoming earlier today. Brewer reports that cars were lining up along the highway and parking at gas stations to watch the oldest locomotive in service come by. “Twenty-five Big Boys were built exclusively for Union Pacific Railroad, the first of which was delivered in 1941. The locomotives were 132 feet long and weighed 1.2 million pounds, [535 tons]” Union Pacific’s website states.
Union Pacific states that Big Boy 4014 began this journey in Colton, Calif. It is schedule to undergo restoration in Cheyenne.

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