You have 2 views remaining. Click here to learn about the Unlimited Membership!

Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / BIG BOY WORK BEGINS NEWSWIRE


By | August 12, 2016

Get a weekly roundup of the industry news you need.

Email Newsletter

Get the newest photos, videos, stories and more.

Union Pacific 4-8-4 No. 844 acts as a shop switcher to place 4-8-8-4 No. 4014 on a turntable at the railroad’s Cheyenne, Wyo., shops in July.
Hayley Enoch
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Two weeks after Union Pacific 4-8-4 No. 844’s successful excursion for the 2016 Cheyenne Frontier Days, the railroad says that the Heritage Operations team is shifting their focus to the restoration of Big Boy 4-8-8-4 No. 4014, the giant locomotive the Union Pacific acquired in 2013.

The restoration will begin with work on the 4014’s tender and firebox, Heritage Operations Senior Manager Ed Dickens says in a news release. The Big Boy class was designed to burn coal, but will be converted to burn oil during the restoration. Nos. 844 and 3985, a 4-6-6-4 Challenger-type locomotive, have both been converted to burn oil.

“Imagine the voracious appetite of a Big Boy burning 28 tons of coal in a matter of hours,” Dickens says. “That’s a lot of ash and cinder. With an oil burner, the locomotive doesn’t produce this kind of debris.”

The Heritage team used No. 844 to move the 4014 to a turntable adjacent to the steam shop, turn it around, and then place it on a different shop track nearer to the machinery. Crews then separated the tender from the engine to begin the first steps of the restoration. Dickens says that as work on the tender and the firebox progresses, the crews will also begin a detailed inspection of the Big Boy’s boiler.

“Like we did on locomotive No. 844, we’ll use an ultrasonic test device that uses sound waves to measure the thickness of every part of 4014’s boiler,” Dickens said.

The Union Pacific plans to restore the 4014 to operational service sometime between 2017 and 2019, in time for the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.


  1. Michael, UP attempted to convert the 4005 to oil in 1946. The experiment failed because the firebox could not generate enough heat.

  2. UP “Acquired” the 4014??? They did that in 1941! “Re-acquired” is the proper term. And, who but UP would use a 4-8-4 for a shop switcher??

  3. While I’m glad to see the Big Boy return. In a way, I’m sad that it will not come to the Northeast.

  4. The thought of 4-8-8-4 out roaming the great American West makes one want to drop 15 pounds, exercise regularly, watch my saturated fat intake, and keep the D-810 batteries charged.
    A sincere “thank you” to Union Pacific for realizing that a working steam engine is THE best way to tell the story of American railroading.
    Those in the Northeast can call DL, AA, UA or SW for airline tickets to Big Boy Land.

  5. I’ll be Mr. Grinch. The UP continues to lose money and yet they continue to poor millions in to a program for railfans. Don’t they have enough trouble trying to keep the other two operating? I’m sure not many railfans are out there shipping products by rail. Maybe their Sales and Recreation Dept. can shed light on that.

  6. UP is doing a great job preserving the company history + preserving American history + generating advertising & goodwill + yes – railfans enjoy it too! Just my 2 cents

  7. Only due to the burner design which I believe was a copy of an oil burning setup for a Challenger or very similar. Either way, the just was not enough oil introduced to burn for sufficient steam. Knowing that and having data available along with advancements in burner design, I am sure that is a small detail at this point.

  8. UP is not losing money. Traffic is down; revenue is down but, UP is not losing money. They are still a profitable railroad despite the current gloomy traffic outlook.

    And I would submit that while railfans certainly appreciate the UP steam program; I believe the railroad continues this more as a matter of corporate pride and for the public relations value. Despite the fact we are, in effect helping to pay for it, as a UP customer, I can appreciate the public relations value of what they are doing and applaud their interest in preserving their corporate heritage.

  9. Yes my bad the UP isn’t losing money, they will always make money in spite of themselves. They just aren’t making as much and as a stockholder the value is down.

  10. I assumed the work would have gotten under way a long time ago . But why hurry I guess. I’m anxious to go see her under her own power ya know. That is on my bucket list.

  11. UP made a profit of $4,772,000,000 (that $4.7 BILLION) in the 2015 year ending 12/31. They are hardly losing money.

  12. It’s great to see heavy work on 4014 under way. It was also rather cute to use 844 to switch 4014. As to profits, most big US railroads will be much lower on profit this year as coal does a huge decline. As to why do it, it is not just about steam fans; it creates a great corporate image for a big railroad; Big Boy on UP an amazing image – the symbol of strength of this great railroad. As to the oil conversion, I’m sure there are all sorts of issues but I’d like to think that modern technology might have a way to deal with the problem. Or perhaps older tech – who knows?

You must login to submit a comment