The Big Boy Comeback!

I have a 1/76 scale non-running model of 4006. All the wheels turn and the valve gear moves but it has no motor.

The old Big Boy locomotives were possibly the absolute pinnacle of American steam engines.

Now, one of them is to be restored to working order. It makes me want to put a motor in mine…


23 thoughts on “The Big Boy Comeback!

  1. 1.2 billion pounds (mass) is 6 million tons. Trust the DM to be unable to do GCSE foundation level maths.
    Having said that, about 30 years ago I bought a couple fo American-outline HO scale locos made by some italian outfit, and “modified” them to run on the 1970s Southern Railway main lines. (Nationalisation never happened, since Churchill was re-elected in 1945 with a majority of 626 seats (“others” had eight), and the “Labour Party” dissolved itself.)
    I painted them post-war Maunsell Light Green with yellow/black lining-out, fitted Bulleid Boxpok steel steel inserts, fitted white-metal Westinhouse steam-brake pumps, gave them Bulleid numbering like 21D1 etc (that was a 4-8-2), and set them free.


    • Rivarossi made a lot of HO American stuff, and they made them well. A friend of mine had three of their Big Boys until he bought a new house and had to sell them to pay the mortgage.

      They did cover a few instalments. I wished I’d had the money at the time to buy one of them from him.


    • But then we got socialists in power in 1945, so their mission was to destroy everything that pre-existed them. Why do socialist “movements” all have a concept of the “Year Zero”? Capitalists and liberals don’t so why these fellas then?

      It’s a diagnostic tool for what they really are.

      There was even a Chinese Emperor, many thousands of years ago, who fixed all his country’s histories so that it was that everything that had ever been discovered was discovered in his own reign. I really really, sorry, can’t be arsed to find out which fella it was, but he was probably called “you-go-f88k” or something like that.

      Tony Blair got close to it, as close as he dared then in 1997 by saying:-


      He actually said it. Who cannot be disgusted?


    • The LabourNazis in 1948 decided finally that they would decline to pay the bills of the British Railway Firms, that had rendered invoices in good faith for all their services during the War. American and British Banks accepted all these as IOUs for the “duration”, and extended the credit required.
      In one case, the LNER was down to its last £10,000 (a stupendous amount of money then, but would have lasted a few hours only – I think it managed to pay all its signalmen’s wages for that day and that was it). The companies were forced to give in, to survive as commercial entities that were then hijacked the next day by the British Arm of the Nazis, which of course won the War.

      By the early 1970s we were importing built diesel locomotives from Romania.


  2. School children from Pine Bluff, Rison, Kingsland and Fordyce waved and shouted their delight at the engine. Cars of railfans followed the train’s path, taking pictures.

    And it wasn’t just schoolchildren waving and shouting.

    My father-in-law and three of his brothers retired from what had been the Cotton Belt, and spent a lot of time, effort, and some money to make 819 track-worthy once more. Time had passed it by when it was made, and it wouldn’t have been made save for WWII, but it gave a thrill to feel the ground tremble when that huge lump of rolling iron thundered by. You didn’t even need to blow the whistle.

    I’d buy a ticket for the next run.


  3. Stunning locomotives! Many years ago I had a catalogue of either Rivarossi or Fleischman, I can’t remember which, and there was a Big Boy spread across two pages. If only! I remember watching a video a friend had of one pulling a five mile long train of box cars from a standing start. At first there was a gradual effort, some forward movement with a few syncopated huffs from the huge exhausts as the drawbars were all pulled tight under the tension of the locos effort, then it stopped, but steam was still at pressure in the cylinders, and gradually the whole train began to move slowly again. The syncopated beat began to increase, a slight slippage of one set of drivers and the exhaust beats changed. It was like some giant awaking from a long slumber and finding its strength in a new awakening. Such colossal power, and the size of it! Wonderful images from the Telegraph.


    • That’ll be the Rivarossi. As far as I know, Fleischmann were mostly European HO models, but then both those names were pretty much unreachable on a teenager budget, even at 1970s prices. A Jouef was enough to get major bragging rights back then – especially if it was a Class 40.


  4. Been following this since U.P. announced it would restore 4014. There were a lot of films made of the Bigboys in the 40’s and 50’s and they were posted on You tube. Typically sloppy journalism they just cut ‘n paste the U.P. press release. the locos weigh 558 Imperial tons, were originally designed to pull trains of 3.600 tons but this was increased to over 4.000 tons and 3 of them could pull a train pf 5 MILES in length, When working hard they consumed 27 tons of coal per HOUR! I am definitely going to the states to see it steaming and hopefully it in restoration.


    • I have never been to the States. Never saw any reason to go since all their TV shows and gadgets ended up here anyway.

      This, however, gives me a reason to renew my passport!


  5. I adore steam. The aroma of pot oil and clinker clings yet. I think it was Crusader Wabbit who posted some lovely videos of double-headed steam-hauled coal trains straining up a steep incline, tear inducing stuff for an old git like me. Thanks for this.


    • I remember Pengam station in Wales when it had a manned ticket office and proper waiting room. It’s just a platform now.

      Steam engines were soon replaced by rattly DMUs, they rattled when they were new and by the time I finished college they had developed some real character – including having the lights on for the entire journey except the part that went through a tunnel.

      I actually miss those DMUs. If the driver hadn’t pulled down the blinds and you got the seat at the front, you could spend the entire trip with a driver’s eye view.


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