King of the HO Scale Railroad: Broadway Limited Big Boy #4014 Steam Locomotive {HO Train Showcase Series}

Summary: Welcome to the HO Train Showcase Series by Nightwatch Trains, where we’ll highlight a favorite HO Scale locomotive and provide a history on the real-life model.

Key takeaways:

  • Remember when…the first UP 4014 Big Boy rolls out
  • Fast Facts on the Railroad Titan, #4014
  • Union Pacific Big Boy 4014 Specs
  • The Coveted Broadway Limited BLI Big Boy Steam Locomotives
  • What Happened to the Union Pacific 4014 locomotives?

Mention the Union Pacific Big Boy #4014 and you’ve got the attention of many railroad enthusiasts. The famed 4014 traveled more than 1 million miles during its impressive 20 years of service, from 1941 to December 1961. These 132 ft long, 1.2 million pound hulks were the only locomotives to use a 4-8-8-4 wheel arrangement. And they’re often considered to be the largest steam locomotive ever made.

When the First Union Pacific 4014 Big Boy Rolled Out…

The year was 1941. Glenn Miller’s “Chattanooga Choo Choo ” was (fittingly) a popular tune. On a much more serious note, the world was at war: the US officially declared war on Japan following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December ‘41.

Earlier that year on May 24th, the German battleship Bismarck sunk the HMS Hood. And in the UK, the Enigma Code was finally broken – influential code-breaker Alan Turing was believed to have accelerated the Allied victory through his work.

On the home front, the first of 25 UP Big Boy locomotives were delivered, and their reign of the railroad began, where they typically worked between Ogden, UT and Cheyenne, WY. Union Pacific was certainly dedicated to the Big Boy’s run, replacing lighter rail, straightening long miles of track for clearance, and resizing elements of their service areas.

Here are some fun fast facts about this legend of the railroad:

Q: How did the Big Boy #4014 come about?

A: UP had some hefty requirements back in the day: a locomotive was required to pull a 3,600-ton train (with no helpers) from Ogden, UT to Wasatch, UT – over Sherman Hill and a 1.14% grade. 132 ft & sixteen 68″ diameter drive wheels later…the powerful UP #4014 was born.

Q: Why was it called the Big Boy, anyway?

A: Legend has it that the memorable name was coined during construction when an employee at ALCO wrote “Big Boy” along the side of the smoke box. The name was a hit, and the rest, as they say…is history.

Q: Is the Big Boy #4014 really the largest steam loco ever made?

A: Yes…and no. Nobody disputes how heavy they were, but according to the National Railroad Museum, that’s only one part of the equation. If you factor in pulling power, then all these railroads at the time boasted locomotives that at least in theory delivered more power than a Union Pacific Big Boy:

  • Chesapeake & Ohio
  • Great Northern
  • Norfolk & Western
  • Duluth
  • Missabe & Iron Range
  • Northern Pacific
  • Erie and Virginian

But even this is up for debate, with some sources pointing to the Big Boys reigning in power and other sources that disagree. Whatever the case, these titans of the railroad were more than capable of handling the tasks set before them.

Bonus Trivia: The 25 Union Pacific Big Boy locomotives were made in two different groups: Class 1 and Class 2. The former Class had locomotives numbered 4000-4019. The latter, Class 2, was numbered 4020-4024.

Union Pacific Big Boy 4014 Specs

What made the UP 4014 locomotive unique is it’s 4-8-8-4 wheel arrangement. It was the only locomotive to ever use this configuration, which features a four-wheel leading truck, two sets of eight driving wheels, and a four-wheel trailing truck to support the rear of the locomotive.

Given their incredible length, Big Boy 4014 frames were articulated, allowing them to move through curves more efficiently – they were an expansion of the 4-6-6-4 “Challenger”-type articulated steam locomotive. The four driving wheels boosted the pulling power, while lessening the need for helper locomotives over steep grades.

Here are some other notable specs on this king of the rails:

  • Track Gauge: 4 ft. 8 1/2 in. standard gauge
  • Wheel Base: 47 ft. 3 in. driving // 72 ft. 5 1/2 in engine // 132 ft. 9 7/8 in. engine & tender
  • Cylinder: 23.75” diameter; 32” stroke
  • Weight: 97,000 lbs. leading // 540,000 lbs. driving // 125,000 lbs. trailing // 762,000 lbs. engine // 427,500 lbs. tender
  • Max tractive power: 135,375 lbs.
  • Fuel: Coal, 56,000 lbs.
  • Water Capacity: 25,000 gallons

HO Scale Train Showcase: Broadway Limited UP Big Boy #4014 Steam Locomotives

Broadway Limited Imports produced some awesome HO scale models of the Big Boy #4014 steam locomotive. Two of our favorites are:

  • Broadway Limited BLI-5676 UP Big Boy #4014
  • Broadway Limited BLI-4387 UP Big Boy #4014

Here’s a quick summary of those two steam locos:

Broadway Limited BLI-5676 UP Big Boy #4014:

  • Excursion Version, Wilson Aftercooler, 25-C-400 Oil Tender
  • DC/DCC
  • Paragon3 Sound & Operation System
  • Locomotive composition is a die case body with die cast chassis
  • 2 Operating Kadee couplers (or compatible)
  • Can use Code 83 and 100 Rail tracks
  • Has traction tires
  • Synchronized puffing smoke with each chuff
  • Factory installed engineer/fireman figures
  • 18” or more minimum operating radius

Broadway Limited BLI-4387 UP Big Boy #4014

  • Excursion Version, Wilson Aftercooler, 25-C-100 Oil Tender
  • DC/DCC
  • Paragon3 Sound & Operation System
  • Locomotive composition is a die case body with die cast chassis
  • 2 Operating Kadee couplers (or compatible)
  • Can use Code 83 and 100 Rail tracks
  • Has traction tires
  • Synchronized puffing smoke with each chuff
  • Factory installed engineer/fireman figures
  • 18” or more minimum operating radius

The detailing on these locomotives is incredible, and unsurprisingly, both live up to Broadway Limited’s history of outstanding quality and craftsmanship.

What happened to the Big Boy 4014 locomotives?

Some Big Boys exited service sooner than 1959. Here’s a quick timeline of world-famous No. 4014 steam locomotive:

  • Delivered December 1941
  • Final Run July 21, 1959
  • Officially Retired December 1961
  • Miles of Service: 1,031,205 (#4017 inched out the #4014 at 1,052,072 miles traveled in service)
  • Re-acquired by Union Pacific in 2013

Once Union Pacific re-acquired the legendary Big Boy No. 4014 from the RailGiants Museum in Pomona, CA, it underwent a years-long restoration to ultimately return to service in May 2019 – just in time to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad’s Completion.

As of this writing, UP says there are seven Big Boys on public display around the US in:

  • Louis, MO
  • Dallas, TX
  • Omaha, NE
  • Denver, CO
  • Scranton, PA
  • Green Bay, WI
  • Cheyenne, WY

Check out this excellent video on the Big Boy 4014 Steam Train, which shows its first test run and its first excursion to Ogden, Utah.

For an amazing sight of snow, steam & sound, here’s another YouTube video shot in Sharon Springs, KS in 2019 of the Union Pacific #4014 thundering through:

Stay on track today with this thought-provoking quote from Ed Catmull:

“Driving the train doesn’t set its course. The real job is laying the track.”

To inquire about the models showcased above, reach out to us. Or, see what other steam locomotives we have in stock.

Happy Railroading!

-Nightwatch Trains