Tom Gatermann caught me hard at work this past weekend at the National Museum of Transport in St. Louis, inside the cab of a UP Big Boy.
I know the real reason why railroads made the transition to diesel locomotives in the 1950s and scrapped those huge, magnificent-looking steamers. The chairs in the diesel locomotives are much, much more comfortable.
Just in case anyone is interested in what a Big Boy looks like, you can click here.
Based on some more information Tom just sent me, I figured out the fuel efficiency of a Big Boy. It typically did a run between Ogden, Utah and Evanston, Wyoming, which Mapquest tells me is a 78-mile journey, by highway of course. Close enough for our purposes. In making this trip, a Big Boy usually burned 35 tons of coal. So, the Big Boy could go roughly 2.25 miles per ton of coal.
Eat your heart out, Toyota.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering how much a ton of coal costs…
I also found some information that the Big Boy used about 208 gallons of water per mile. If the train was extremly heavy, it claims that the water usage could jump up to 416 gallons a mile and 1.037 miles per ton of coal. Of course when you weigh 1.2 million pounds and are 132 feet long, you are going to use alot of fuel.