Oil Firing on Big Boys

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Fri Jul 28 07:49:24 EDT 2017

On Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 6:54 AM NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>

> My understanding is that without question, the 4000 class Big Boy will
> be oil-fired when it is restored to operation. When Challenger #3985
> was restored to operation in time for the 1981 Sacramento Railfair and
> the first year or two afterwards, it was coal-fired and started
> range-fires wherever it went and cost UP a lot deal with the problem.
> It ended up being banned as I recall from Colorado until it was
> converted to oil-firing, which it was, using parts available from
> suitable other donor engines and tenders. It has worked just fine
> since then until it went out of service a few years ago.
> With all the available data and experiences these days, I have no
> doubt that when Big Boy rolls again under its own power, the oil
> firing will be just fine
> As for BIG Boy and oil, in 1946, when there was a post-WW II
> coal-miner strike, UP converted ONE and only one engine, I think the
> #4005 for oil burning in place of coal for fuel. They apparently only
> put one burner in its firebox and after a short period it was restored
> as before as it apparently was no longer needed that way plus had not
> been successful. If I am correct with the right engine, that still
> exists and used to be at the Forney Museum I think it was in Denver.
> Bob Cohen

For what it is worth, during Railfest in Sacramento, 1999, I arrived near
844 very early (5:00am) to watch/photograph the crew get ready for the
day's excursion. There was no residual fire banked as with coal use. So,
using some waste cotton, a new fire was started with the oil. By sun-up the
locomotive was ready to go to its train.

Mike Pierry, Jr.

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