Delivered in 1944, the Union Pacific's ten FEF-3 ("FEF" for "Four Eight Four") Northerns were the apex of super-power steam: modern, handsome, and designed to cruise at over 100 mph. In their early years, dressed in two-tone grey, they pulled the Overland Limited, Portland Rose, Challenger and other crack UP passenger trains. Diesels later bumped them to freight service in plain black livery. The last FEF-3 built, No. 844, has the distinction of being the only steam locomotive never retired by a U.S. railroad. You can ride behind it today in UP excursion service.
The FEF-3 returns to the RailKing line in four authentic passenger and freight paint schemes. The three oil-burning versions have the distinctive "elephant ears" - smoke deflectors designed to prevent smoke from obscuring the engineer's vision - and the coal-fired version has a real coal load. For 2008 we've upgraded this model with a larger tender and additional Imperial features that include legible builder's plates, marker lights with individual LED illumination, painted backhead gauges, cab interior light, and tender truck safety chains.
Did You Know?
In 1946 it cost $1.19 per mile to operate an FEF-3, of which 40 cents went for coal or oil, 3 cents for water, and 19 cents for crew wages. Brand new, an FEF-3 went for $150,000, nearly 100 times the price of a new car.