5″ Big Boy

A little page about our 5″ Gauge Union Pacific Big Boy 4023.

She was built by Brian Hewitt-Taylor over a 2o year period.  Brian was a bank manager rather than a trained engineer, and model engineering was his hobby.  The Big Boy was started in 1973, when the Union Pacific railroad responded to Brian’s written request for drawings.  The supplied the essential works drawings and a nice little encouragement letter wishing him the very best of luck with his project, and the build was away!  The locomotive was finally finished in 1993, and stabled at Brian’s club, Beechurst model engineers in Kent where she was such a big model to move about that the club built her a bespoke brick building to live in at the track!  Beechurst is a raised track, and the Big Boy is so large that you have to sit on the tender to drive,….. A little on the scary side as far as we can see,….. and not for the feint hearted!

The engine suffered a few minor mechanical problems around 2010, and as a result it was taken out of service.  Sadly Brian passed away in 2014, and the decision was taken to find the locomotive a new home where the issues could be sorted out and she could be brought back into steaming condition.  A good friend of ours, Adam was kind enough to put our name forward and the rest as they say is history!

When she arrived at our workshops we did a brief mechanical assessment, and found that the most obvious problem was the steam reverser.  The cylinder cover had been removed, presumably to address a problem, but all the steel bolts had sheered off in the bronze cylinder making it’s reassembly impossible!  There was also a question over potential boiler issues,….. although nobody was entirely sure what they may have been, and we found a big hole in the superheater header.

More to follow shortly!