Coal fired UP and range fires

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Sun Jul 30 11:28:58 EDT 2017

Follow up on something I forgot regarding the Denver #4005. Trust me, that
engine is NOT in good shape. When it was moved into the spot it sat for
many years, there was a curve and in order to "make it fit" where it was
desired back in the 1960s, I was told the frame was torched or something
along those lines, to get it into the last 50 or 100 feet. Then again, it
has also been sitting uncovered, outdoors for all these years, subject to
wind, rain, freezing, etc. It might look nice but trust me is not. That is
a lesson the WM Scenic has sadly learned from the #1309 which sat out of
doors, unprotected all these years and available to all sorts of wind and
rain. What was it someone more recently stated regarding that: worn out and
put away wet?

Anyone who think the railroads gave away mint condition steam when
consigned to parks, when all they wanted to do was get rid of them is sadly
mistaken. SP torched the piston rods on #4460 and UP I was told did it to
the BIG Boy in Dallas, and the list can go on.

Oh, we lament why wasn't any of this or that class or railroad's engine
saved, but the larger ones were several thousand dollars in scrap steel,
never minding weighing many tons to go over local roads, and even back in
the 50s and 60s, not cheap to move.

Let's be glad for what WAS saved. Out of nearly a quarter-million steamers
which graced American rails from the 1820s until today, something less than
2,000 survive in one vegetative state or another.

Bob Cohen

On Sat, Jul 29, 2017 at 10:20 AM, Bob Cohen <orlco96782 at> wrote:

> Good afternoon from the UK,
> There is a Big Boy in the museum in Denver. It is an impressive piece of
> kit. I was lucky enough to see this a few years ago. It is in good
> condition.
> Was the range fire problem a big issue when steam was in full operation on
> the N&W and the UP?  In our rain drenched conditions in Britain this is
> less
> of a problem other than in dry spells of which we seem to have very few. It
> is raining now!
> Regards
> Phil Mortimer
> With regard to the question from the gentleman from the UK, my
> understanding is that in the years since the end of steam, coal-fired steam
> especially on the UP, the weeds grew closer and closer to the rails without
> the *'natural control'* which was maintained back when in the glory days
> of steam. In addition, the spark arrestor on Challenger may either have
> been no more or otherwise no longer operating properly or even at all. In
> any event, there were lots of range fires and the UP found it had to follow
> the train with a tanker and hose to douse the problems wherever they
> appeared.
> As for oil-firing, when the engine is parked, you turn off the firing
> valve and then the oil and your engine is parked. No banked fires with a
> pile of coal. Been there done that, both ways for steam. Always preferred
> oil over coal: you don't have to shovel that stuff, that's for sure.
> Then again, you also had to have a bunch of sand to sand the flues to
> clear them of the soot buildup periodically. Sure made a Lucius Beebe type
> sight with all that black soot/smoke blowing out. Might not make EPA
> pleased but what the heck.
> When we see a Big Boy freely roam the rails again, it will be oil-fired.
> Just remember that UP's 8400 class were all coal-fired when received from
> Alco and were converted over to oil as time and convenience went on.
> Several survivors exist from that class but only the last new steamer
> purchased by UP, the 844 remains active and is the ONLY Class 1 carrier's
> steam locomotive to have never been retired in the US. UP will surely
> get-it-right with the Big Boy and whenever we see it again under its' own
> power, it will be the first time since late July 1959 for a Big Boy.
> Isn't it great to see these things roam the lands they once called home
> and not just see them in a glorified over sized petting zoo going
> chuggity-chug-STOP at tourist museums? 611 has delighted fans trackside
> many times since 1982 as have others and that is how this animal was meant
> to be ............. but wouldn't it be great to see it once again go at the
> speeds it was originally designed for. Weren't there signs once on the RR
> "Slow down to 90"? I know they existed out west at least.
> Oh to dream ................ zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
> Bob Cohen
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the NW-Mailing-List mailing list