The Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 “Big Boy” is one of the most recognizable locomotives in the world, and one of the most often built n LEGO. In spite of this, skilled builders are still finding ways to make a better version of this iconic engine. Nate Flood is one such builder.
His Big Boy, his second version of it, as he states, is wonderfully detailed. I am especially taken by the work he did on the pony truck and tender trucks.
This picture also shows one of my other favorite details; the use of chain links for the tender side ladders. Making ladders and steps for locomotives is really difficult in LEGO. The real things were usually much narrower and made of thinner pieces than most LEGO ladder options.
Nate made his upgraded Big Boy primarily to switch from large to XL wheels, and I think it is an excellent choice. It’s crazy how small XL wheels look on this model, but photos of the real thing, as below, show that Nate’s engine is well proportioned. His desire to use XL wheels came from the same scale issues I discuss here. Basically, because we now have XXL wheels potentially available, XLs can come into service on models like this one.
This model also features vinyl cuttings by Nate’s own daughter, which we recently featured in another article. These work really well with bold, white lettering such as that used by the Union Pacific, and I think it’s an option I will be looking into in the near future.
Big Boys are very well represented among surviving steam locomotives. There are 8 surviving of the original 25, scattered all across the US. Nate’s model is of Big Boy 4014, which is the unit Union Pacific is currently restoring to operational condition, giving it special significance. Soon enough, the model Big Boys won’t be the only ones in active service.