Athearn going Big

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by SeriousSam, Jul 18, 2007.

  1. SeriousSam

    SeriousSam Member

    So, do yall think the newly announced Big Boys will outsell their recently released Challengers? I have still to get a challenger...and a Big Boy for that matter.

    And what ever happened to the Overland SD70ACE orders? They've been "coming soon" for almost two years.

    EDIT: Its all N Scale for me, baby.
  2. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    I'm just going by the HO versions, as thats what i have:winki: . i have 2 Challengers, and 1 Big Boy:mrgreen: , i have found Both models to be EXCELLENT RUNNERS, and the sound is quite good too:thumb: . i think the sound in the Big Boy is slightly better then the Challengers because the Big Boy comes with different whistles you can choose from, and the "extra" sounds it has while running are a little better, like the auger sound, etc.:winki:

    Athearns Challenger, and Big Boy can handle a 22r curve quite well too(NO SMALLER), it doesn't look pretty:oops: , but they can take the curves:winki: . they handle well because Athearn made the drivers in BOTH of these engines so BOTH sets of drivers swivel:thumb: , this of coarse was NOT the case in the REAL Challengers and Big Boys:winki: . in the REAL engines, the FIRST set of drivers(closest to the cab) were stationary, they DID NOT swivel, only the second set of drivers swiveled:winki: .

    Which one will outsell the other?....i am guessing the Big Boy will take the lead:thumb: , but who knows, there could be more Challenger fans out there:confused: .

    As far as the SD70ACe's, i have had one on pre-order from Tower55 for almost a year now, and am still not sure when they will be out:rolleyes: .
    :deano: -Deano
  3. CRed

    CRed Member

    I don't do "N" Scale,but I've read that the Challengers are very nice runners and pullers and look great so I'm guessing the Big Boys will be great also.

    I was thinking of getting a C&NW SD70Ace also,I already have a NP ES44DC and it's really nice.I've changed my mind though and I now want a CN SD70M-2 when if they ever become available.

  4. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Athearn is releasing N scale Big Boys? What planet have I been on? I've got one of their Challengers and while I initially had problems with it, I love the one I have now. I'm gonna have to track down one of those Big Boys. Thanks for the heads up!
    EDIT: Just checked out the web site and it appears they will only be coming out with UP's and an undecorated. I guess I'll have to get the undecorated and try my hand at applying decals. That leads me to wonder... was UP the only one to run Big Boys? Nahhh, that can't be can it?
  5. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    The Big Boy was a U.P. only design. Generally speaking, four wheel leading trucks were used on passenger locomotives and dual purpose locomotives while freight only designs had 2 wheel leading trucks. The Challengers were true dual purpose locomotives that were used by the D&RGW as well as the Clinchfield. I don't know if the U.P. used the Big Boys for passenger service, or if they thought they would when they ordered them, but the only other 8 coupled mallet type to use a 4 wheel leading truck was the S.P. cab forward, and it was actually a 2-8-8-4 that was turned around to put the cab in front to protect the crews from being gassed in tunnels and snow sheds.
  6. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Well, just ordered one. Now we get to see how long I really have to wait for it. Two years later and I'm still waiting on my Precision Craft PA/PB DCC w/sound.
  7. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    The issue was one of speed, not technically passenger service. An engine's usability for passenger service is determined by whether or not it has steam lines through the tender. During WWII, many freight engines were converted for passenger service in this fashion. The troop trains they were being adapted to haul weren't fast, as passenger trains go. Examples of purpose-built passenger engines with 2 leading wheels include CP Selkirk 2-10-4s, N&W A-class 2-6-6-4s (I think these were dual-service) and some C&O H-8 Alleghenies.

    In China, there's another such situation. Their last large steam passenger power were 1930s-built Northerns, retired in the 1970s. The last steam passenger engines they built were Pacifics in the 50s and 60s. After this time, diesels gradually took over long-distance passenger trains, as most of these were growing to long and heavy for Pacifics. Their last Pacifics were retired at the beginning of the 90s. However, steam passenger service did continue, though the trains weren't as fast. To handle the heavy loads, 2-10-2s were adapted for passenger service. Thus, a freight wheel arrangement was reponsible for the last regular steam-hauled mainline passenger trains anywhere in the world.

    Conversely, some 4-leading-wheel freight-only engines were CB&Q 4-8-4s (I could call them "Burlington Northerns", but that wouldn't be understandable)... and UP Big Boys. In both cases, it was because they were meant for fast freight.
  8. SeriousSam

    SeriousSam Member

    oh yea, speaking of big articulated steam engines, life like is releasing a second (or third?) release of the 2-8-8-2 mallet. I wonder how that will turn out. I have to stop buying so many modern diesel locomotives and save up to buy these new products.
  9. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Thanks for the clarification, Triplex. It dawned on me yesterday after I had posted and was on my way to my buddy's shop to work on my Firebird, that the Big Boys were probably built for fast freight service rather than passenger. They were built at a time when PFE, SFRD, & FGE were shipping large blocks of Western produce East in ice bunker cars and the produce had to get to the Eastern markets while still in fresh condition to be sold as table fruit.
  10. Bones

    Bones Member

    Yep, Fast Frieght. Although they were seen almost everywhere out west... They were designed specifically for the long Omaha - Salt Lake City run, at high speed.
  11. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    Russ- you could always run a "special" with them BigBoys, I'm sure I've seen DVD's where they run modern tourist trains with a BigBoy- and I can definately vouch that they've used a Challeger.

    I think the BigBoy is to UP what the Cab Forward is (or rather was) to SP.

    Seen, and heard, the Challenger models and some BigBoys- but not sure of the manufacturer- love the way they even make the ''off beat'' stack talk too!
  12. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    The T55 ACe's start this December. OMI have sold out already. I've seen a few of #4141 on eBay for $2000+.

    I'm looking for a Challenger myself, 3985 with sound, in excursion paint.
  13. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    UP has their Challenger, but they haven't restored a Big Boy to operate and have said they have no intention of doing so.
    I've often seen photos, real and model, of Big Boys hauling reefer trains. In fatc, that's the most common thing I've seen behind them.
  14. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    U.P. has a Challenger that is restored and used regularly along with the 4-8-4 for business trains. For midwest modelers, a neat thing is that when U.P. finishes working on noe of the steam engines and needs to give it a run, they will often put it in front of a revenue freight to haul a train a few hundred miles, so it is not unusual for the Challenger or FEF to be on the point of a container train or other revenue service from time to time.

    I think I read an article in Trains a few years ago where they were interviewing the president of UP and asked if there were any plans to restore a Big Boy to operating condition to use like the Challenger. He said no, the Big Boy would cost twice as much as the Challenger per mile to operate if I remember correctly.
  15. Renovo PPR

    Renovo PPR Just a Farmer

    Darn I thought you said big like in O gauge.:cool:
  16. woodone

    woodone Member

    You get to get a new locomotive:thumb:
    Cool, how soon do you think you will see it?
    BTW how was the trip to Durango?
  17. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Hey woodone! Haven't seen anything from you for a while. The Big Boys are due to be released in January of 2008. We'll see! Durango was awesome. I've got a thread on here 'bout it somewhere... let me find it...
  18. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    There are currently 8 surviving Big Boys.

    Here are the factors that really affected the design of a wheel arrangement:

    The amount of weight on the drivers improved their pulling power. You typically want a ratio of 4:1 of weight on drivers to tractive effort. This was known as a factor of adhesion. The N&W class As were notoriously slippery engines due to having a low FA. They received a limited cutoff essentially to reduce their tractive effort in order to improve their factor of adhesion.

    So, the more weight carried above the drivers, the better a locomotive would be at starting a train.

    Since steam pressure was what powered the cylinders, it was always a good idea to be able to produce amble steam to fuel the cylinders. The faster a locomotive operated, the more steam its boiler would need to produce, and hence the larger the firebox it would need. Until Lima's A1, freight trains typically operated around 15mph as the 2 wheel trailing trucks couldn't support a large enough firebox to maintain higher speeds. The A1's revolutionary 4 wheel trailing truck design allowed it to produce more steam than the cylinders could use.

    So, having a 4-wheel trailing truck really made fast freight possible, and hence it was a must for a large, fast engine.

    The number of drivers was primarily a result of distributing the weight of a locomotive. The same weight spread out over 4 axles instead of 3 axles would generally be easier on the track...especially with short bridges...but would result in slightly higher maintenance.

    The Lead truck was primarily their to give a smooth ride. I know specifically that later 2-wheel lead trucks were specifically designed for high speed, but prior to the concepts behind the high speed 1-axle lead truck, the 4-wheel lead truck was the only safe way of operating a locomotive at high speeds. The first two axles carry much of the force of going around curves. You'll have slightly higher maintenance on a 2-8-4 than a 4-8-4 due to the wear on the #1 drivers of a berk where as the northern would wear the lead truck. This was noticeable on one of the restored berkshires.

    Keep in mind, the Big Boys were neither the biggest nor the most powerful locomotives. They were smaller than the C&O 2-6-6-6s, weaker than the DM&IR 2-8-8-4s and C&O 2-6-6-6s, but they were pretty much exactly what the UP wanted. (Btw, you'll have to do a little research on the 2-6-6-6 weight controversy if you want to see why they're bigger)

    Breaking up a 4-16-4 into a 4-8-4 saved dramatically on the running gear weight and also allowed the negotiating of tighter curves through articulation. Not all x-x-x-xs were articulated. The Pensy's 4-4-4-4s and 6-4-4-6 had rigid frames...they just used chose to save on running gear weight.

    The UP's first truly monstrous beast (and my fav UP power!) was their 4-12-2. It was purely a freight engine, but designed with a 4-wheel lead truck for flying across the plains. There is 1 survivor, and its at the LA fairgrounds.

    The Challengers were dual service locomotives. They actually weren't as powerful as some 2-10-4s, but who cares? They were designed to assault Sherman Hill and were the largest locomotives to regularly be used in passenger service. They had lower axle loadings than other large articulateds, which helped them to be versatile engines.

    The Big Boys, if memory services me, were enlarged Challengers. They were intended for fast freight, with Sherman Hill as its nemesis. They were the zenith of UP power, and rightly are as synonymous with the UP as anything could be. Its just as shame that they never received the two-tone gray of their passenger hauling cousins ;-)

    As for excursion isn't the maintenance or the fuel costs that makes it difficult to consider restoring one...its the restrictions of operating a 4-8-8-4. Even if it will fit through the clearances every where, its going to have many speed restrictions and test a number of bridges load restrictions. For reference...when a NKP berk would travel the same excursion route of an N&W J, the berk would have almost no limitations...but the J would have a 10 page essay's worth of restrictions due to clearance, axle weight, and such (the J's have axle loadings almost on par with Alleghenies). Engines are designed for specific portions of specific railroads...and those designed to the extremes are very difficult to take elsewhere. The only way that a DM&IR yellowstone, a UP Big Boy, a C&O Allegheny, an N&W class A, a UP Challenger, an N&W class J, or similar locomotives can be operated is with exceptional support from a railroad.

    That being said...there was a deal around 7 years ago to restore a Big Boy for a Hollywood movie, but the deal fell through. It was really sad that it didn't happen. I would love to see a Big Boy run. Maybe something else will come along. The Big Boys are the ideal jumbo locomotives to restore as there are 8 left (useful for spare parts), they have someone what reasonable axle loadings, and it could be possible to get future UP management somewhat on board with such a marketing tool...if they don't have to deal with the headaches.
  19. woodone

    woodone Member

    Well, if I start to save $$ now, by the time they are out maybe I can get one. I need lots of $$ as I would sure like to get a Challenger too!
    The sound is what made me go to DCC.
    Durango photos are very nice- great pictures.:thumb:

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