Just months before Pearl Harbor, the American Locomotive Company delivered the first Big Boy to the Union Pacific Railroad at Council Bluffs, Iowa September 4, 1941. Union Pacific's love affair with larger than life locomotives, allowed for the successful advent of the Big Boy and Challenger, but also led to the failures of other gas turbines such as the DD40AX "Centennial". One of the UP's earliest and most successful big engines was the 9000-class 4-12-2, which boasted the longest rigid wheelbase of any American steam locomotive. Designed for fast freight service, the eighty-eight 9000-class engines were built by Alco in 1926-30, during a period when low-speed "drag" freight service - the norm on American railroads for decades - was being largely supplanted by freight trains running at passenger speeds. The 9000s could haul a mile-long train at 50 mph, twice the speed of the Mallet articulateds they replaced.
Designed specifically by UP's Department of Research and Mechanical Standards, the Big Boy pulled 3600-ton trains unassisted over the Wasatch Mountains in Utah. While this locomotive is often cited as the biggest steam locomotive ever built, in fact it is not. The Norfolk & Western's Y6 and A, the Duluth Missabe & Iron Range's Yellowstones, and the Chesapeake and Ohio's Alleghenys were all in the same league, and some exceeded the Big Boy's weight and power. Known as a "Union Pacific" type for their wheel arrangement unique to the U.P., the 9000s were also the most successful three-cylinder rod locomotives ever built. The third cylinder was placed between the two outside cylinders and drove a rod connected to the second axle, which was shaped like a crankshaft rather than a straight axle. A pair of hinged rods driven off the outer cylinders, and clearly visible on the pilot in front of the cylinders, operated the third cylinder's valve gear. The rest of the middle cylinder's machinery, however, was not so visible or accessible, and tended to receive less than the optimal amount of attention from shop crews. Despite the maintenance headaches of the third cylinder, however, the 4-12-2s proved versatile and dependable. When faster and more powerful Challengers and Big Boys replaced them as the UP's premier freight engine, the 9000s became the principal freight power on the Nebraska division, where they served until early 1956. Engine No. 9000 was saved from the scrapper and resides today at the Los Angeles County Fairplex in Pomona, CA.
New for 2010, the 9000-class joins the other unique and massive UP power that has graced the Premier lineup. With smoother operation than any other model of this unique engine, our 4-12-2 will feature the wealth of added-on details you expect in a Premier locomotive - including operating third-cylinder valve gear on the pilot - and a correct six chuffs per driver revolution
This enduring symbol of American railroading returns to the Premier line for 2010, complete with industry-leading speed control, synchronized puffing smoke timed to driver revolutions, and a range of accurate sounds that characterize all M.T.H. locomotives. Our model features a Pittman motor and four traction tires for pulling power and speed that rival the original Big Boy - as well as authentic articulated chuffing sounds with the two engines drifting in and out of sync.
Outfitted in two configurations, the 2011Big Boy Special Edition Sets includes your choice of a passenger consist or a freight train with either locomotive programmed with station or freight yard Proto-EffectsT. Each set is limited in quantity and will save you $300.00 when compared to the individual price of each item.