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UPRR announces retirement of 3985.

Railroads

Registered
In January 2020, Union Pacific Steam Team executive Ed Dickens announced that the decision had been made to officially retire No. 3985 from excursion service, as the railroad felt they could only maintain and operate two historic steam locomotives at a time (Nos. 4014 and 844), in addition to the locomotive requiring a full rebuild as a result of poor mechanical condition. The announcement came first on Facebook and was later confirmed in an email newsletter. No further information about the future of the locomotive has been released, and the 3985 continues to remain stored at the Union Pacific roundhouse in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Robert
 

Odin

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/13/2019
It seems odd to me. I knew that UP was only funding the steam program enough to operate 2 locomotives at once, but I was under the impression that once 4014 was in good order they would take 3985 into the shop for the same levels of full rebuild as 4014 was given- and that parts in common between 4014 and 3985 had extras made with the intention of using them in this way.

The eventual result would have been that they would have rebuilt 3985 to just short of putting flues in the boiler and then stopped, waiting until 844's flue time ran out before putting in the flues and finishing the rebuild. Then 844 would spend a few years in the shop being rebuilt while 4014 and 3985 ran the high iron until 4014's flue time was up.

This is quite the change of plans if they're going to retire 3985 completely instead of rebuilding it again.
 

I like oldstuff

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Last Subscription Date
11/09/2015
I'd vote waaay over budget. And add to that the big tour they made last year and the board choked on what was spent. Somewhere I heard the figure of $1000/hour to run the big boy. I don't know what this grand encompasses but it certainly ain't cheap to keep.

The good intentions of restoring 3985 certainly got spanked hard and it doesn't surprise me.
 

Railroads

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3985 is said to be in sad shape through out. A victim of practices by the former steam shop management. At one time it was said 3985 would need a brand new boiler barrel of all welded construction.

I don't know how true any of that is? But I do wonder if there is a bit more behind the scenes playing into this decision. It's been stated more than once that at this point 3977 is in better condition.

Fun fact,

Only 2 of the 105 challengers remain. There would have been 4 of them if things had worked out differently.

UP had set aside 3967 for preservation. It was scrapped in the 1960's. I believe oil burner 3708 was also asked for. But UP deemed it too unfit for preservation.

Robert
 

Odin

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/13/2019
UP is also probably looking at economic circumstances as well. Many stock tickets are lining up for a major selloff between July and November, in which UNP might lose almost 50% of its present value. Even though people will still need the railroad to bring them supplies, the economic uncertainty attached to such a happening likely has corporate already figuring out ways to slash ongoing costs. Including cutting the steam program's budget until conditions improve, we could see both steamers doing only a fraction of the events they currently run.

It's not so much the fuel costs, as I understand it the heritage fleet is fuelled by filtering down the waste motor oil from the diesel fleet. But the labor costs of maintaining and operating. The security costs of keeping the foamers out of harm's way. The disruption of regular paying traffic to let a steamer run. They are weighing all of that against the value of keeping them going, and if worst comes to worst may have to mothball the engines for a little while to save money.
 
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