Union Pacific  4-8-8-4

Big Boy  4018

Barry Bogs  explains his Big Boy
experiences as a child and why he is
building this massive locomotive.

I have been thinking about this engine for many years, but now is the time to get with the program and build the loco of my childhood dreams, Union Pacific Big Boy 4018! When I was just a young lad, not even in High School, I picked up a copy of Model Railroader, and saw for the first time a picture of the Union Pacific Big Boy locomotive. All I could think of was WOW, WOW, WOW! That had to be a monster of an engine, but were there any left to see for real? After a little research, I found out that Dallas had one on display at the State Fairgrounds. Since I did not drive and had no money, I begged my parents to take me there to see the museum and fair. I guess I wore them down and they finally succumbed to my request. Our family had never been to the State Fair, so it was a family event.

As I walked through the gate of the museum, all I could think of was getting to the Big Boy loco. It was at the complete other end of the museum, so with hast, leaving my parents and sister behind, I ran to see the engine. There it was in all it's glory, and it did not disappoint with the gigantic size of everything. I was glued to it's every detail. Then disaster struck! I saw the the piston rods were cut! My heart sank... thinking that this engine will never run again... That was just wrong. I almost cried. I thought if I ever have a model of the engine, it will run forever. Never would I cut the rods or make it a static display model. I guess that is why today, everything that the shop builds, has to run first and look good second. I don't remember what else was on display there, as it really didn't matter to me at the time....

Later that same year, our family went to the mall for some shopping. My mom made me go to Woolworth department store with her for some items she needed. We are walking down the main isle, when I see a whole island of HO trains, right in the middle of the isle! (It was a set up by the store, and I fell for it) I stopped dead in my tracks, and looked at every box. There it was! The engine of my dreams, Union Pacific Big Boy in an AHM box. I had to wipe my drool off of it. I wanted it! If you remember, I told you that I had no money, and since we lived in the country at the time, odd jobs were hard to come by. All I got was a dollar a week allowance. ( Earlier that week, I had to give my sister a dollar, so that she would come play trains with me for an hour) It was time to beg again! I asked my parents if they would buy it for me and let me pay it off for the next 32 weeks? After much back and forth, they agreed. That was the longest 32 weeks of my life! They would not let me see or touch it for all that time.
You can imagine how happy I was when I finally got the engine, pulled it out of the box and ran it on my layout for the first time! I was in love! I kept that engine until after Janet and I got married in 1985. G scale was my new fascination, and HO was so small, it meant little to me, so I sold all of the HO stuff I had. No, I do not regret it, as the stuff was very old and did not always run well.

Fast forward to 1976. I was a senior in high school and was able to go on a trip to Washington DC with my classmates. I went to the Smithsonian exhibit on transportation and there found cases of large scale, half inch scale models. I was in awe! There in front of my eyes was the most beautiful Big Boy model I have ever seen. If there was some way for me to take it home, I would have done it. The half inch scale model is still around, but is currently on display at the B and O RR museum. Last time I was there, all of the models I saw in 1976 were still there and I still had the urge to take the Big Boy home with me.....
Big Boy 4014 came to Houston last year when it was cold and wet. Of course it was my lifetime dream fulfilled, to see a Big Boy run again. I went downtown to see the engine in the rain next to the Amtrak station. It was in the poorest spot possible to get a good picture of it. It still did not disappoint me, as it was a LIVE STEAM Big Boy! Later when it was on the move, my son Blake, Craig Brantley and I went to see it as it came into Old Town Spring, in the wet and cold. I did not take a picture of it as it came in on the curve in front of me; no I just stood there and let it burn a memory in my brain of the majesty of this magnificent loco pulling into town that day. It was like the king riding in with his army with all the pomp and circumstance due him. It was a day I will never forget....

Why now to build Big Boy? Well, why not? It feels like the time and resources are right. I thought about starting the project a couple of years ago, but with any loco project, the drivers and wheels are the key. This engine will have the largest drivers to date, of any that the boys in the shop have built. The driver story is for another update, so stay tuned for that. This loco and tender will be about 72 inches long and will present more engineering challenges to the boys in the shop than any other project that I have put them up to. I will be leaning on the Friends of BLW to help the boys complete this massive project. I do not have any time restrictions on how long it will take, but I do want to have it ready for the 2023 NMRA convention in Dallas TX, as the 4018 is still in the Dallas area.
Well, there you have my thoughts and dreams at this point in time. I will be calling on my friends to help the boys with various details of this build, as I already have. I will try to give you a little more info with each process update, this time around. I hope you will follow along with me on this monumental journey, to bring one of my life long dreams to fruition. Thanks so much for your time and thoughts. Barry, chief director of BLW Still trying to build the trains of my dreams from the ground up since 1987...  -  Barry
Note:  the photo above and on the main page,  is from Barry,  taken in years past when the 4018 was at the Fair Grounds in Dallas.
Below are some examples of the HO  AHM  model Barry mentioned buying as a kid.  Click the pictures to expand and scroll thru.
UP-model-a.jpg UP-model-b.jpg UP-model-c.jpg UP-model-d.jpg UP-model-e.jpg

  to the  C&W  Big Boy  project page