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N Scale - Athearn - 22909 - Locomotive, Steam, 4-8-8-4 Big Boy - Union Pacific - 4022

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N Scale - Athearn - 22909 - Locomotive, Steam, 4-8-8-4 Big Boy - Union Pacific - 4022 Image courtesy of Athearn


Brand Athearn
Stock Number 22909
Original Retail Price $499.98
Manufacturer Athearn
Image Provider's Website Link
Body Style Athearn Steam Engine 4-8-8-4 Big Boy
Prototype Locomotive, Steam, 4-8-8-4 Big Boy (Details)
Road or Company Name Union Pacific (Details)
Reporting Marks UP
Road or Reporting Number 4022
Paint Color(s) Black
Coupler Type MT Magne-Matic Knuckle
Wheel Type Chemically Blackened Metal
Wheel Profile Small Flange (Low Profile)
DCC Readiness DC/DCC Dual Mode Decoder w/Sound
Announcement Date 2015-01-01
Release Date 2016-12-01
Item Category Locomotives
Model Type Steam
Model Subtype 4-8-8-4
Model Variety Big Boy
Prototype Region North America
Prototype Era Era III: Transition (1939 - 1957)
Years Produced 1941-1944
Scale 1/160



Model Information: As of 2016, this model has been produced in four (4) runs, released in 2008, 2009, 2013 and 2016.
Starting with the second run, some models have been offered with smoke deflectors.
Starting with the third run, some models have been offered with oil tender instead of coal tender.

Key Features:
  • Boiler backhead with full detailing
  • Individually applied piping, valves, generators, etc.
  • Correctly operating eccentric cranks
  • Headlights and number boards with directional light change
  • Tender light
  • Five pole skewed armature motor with dual flywheels
  • Pivoting front and rear engines for negotiating 11" radius curves - 15" radius recommended
  • Factory installed onboard sound and DCC decoder
  • Hand held remote control for DC operation
  • Blackened metal wheels suitable for operation on Code 55 track
  • MicroTrains operating knuckle couplers installed
A presentation of the packaging can be seen on N Gauge Forum. The model's booklet can be found here

DCC Information: The two first runs (2008 and 2009) are factory-equipped with a MRC sound decoder, that came together with a hand-held remote control for analog operation.
The subsequent runs (2013 and 2016) are factory-equipped with a Soundtraxx Tsunami sound decoder.
In the 2016 run, two models are proposed without decoder, but DCC ready.

Prototype History:
Big Boy is the popular name of the American Locomotive Company 4000-class 4-8-8-4 articulated, coal-fired, steam locomotives manufactured between 1941 and 1944 and operated by the Union Pacific Railroad until 1959.

The Big Boy fleet of twenty five locomotives were used primarily in the Wyoming Division to haul freight over the Wasatch mountains between Green River, Wyoming and Ogden, Utah. They were the only locomotives to use a 4-8-8-4 wheel arrangement consisting of a four-wheel leading truck for stability entering curves, two sets of eight driving wheels and a four-wheel trailing truck to support the large firebox.

According to Union Pacific senior manager of Heritage Operations Ed Dickens Jr., the 4-8-8-4 series originally was to have been called "Wasatch". One day while one of the engines was being built an unknown worker scrawled "Big Boy" in chalk on its front. With that, the legendary name was born and has stuck ever since.

Read more on Wikipedia and on SteamLocomotive.com.

Road Name History:
The Union Pacific Railroad (reporting mark UP) is a freight hauling railroad that operates 8,500 locomotives over 32,100 route-miles in 23 states west of Chicago, Illinois and New Orleans, Louisiana. The Union Pacific Railroad network is the largest in the United States and employs 42,600 people. It is also one of the world's largest transportation companies.

Union Pacific Railroad is the principal operating company of Union Pacific Corporation (NYSE: UNP); both are headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. Over the years Union Pacific Corporation has grown by acquiring other railroads, notably the Missouri Pacific, Chicago & North Western, Western Pacific, Missouri-Kansas-Texas, and the Southern Pacific (including the Denver & Rio Grande Western).

Union Pacific Corporation's main competitor is the BNSF Railway, the nation's second largest freight railroad, which also primarily services the Continental U.S. west of the Mississippi River. Together, the two railroads have a duopoly on all transcontinental freight rail lines in the U.S.

Read more on Wikipedia and on Union Pacific official website.

Brand/Importer Information:
Athearn's history began in 1938, when its founder-to-be, Irvin Athearn, started an elaborate O scale layout in his mother's house. After placing an ad selling the layout, and receiving much response to it, Irv decided that selling model railroads would be a good living. He sold train products out of his mother's house through most of the 1940s. After becoming a full-time retailer in 1946, Irv opened a separate facility in Hawthorne, California in 1948, and that same year he branched into HO scale models for the first time.

Athearn acquired the Globe Models product line and improved upon it, introducing a comprehensive array of locomotive, passenger and freight car models. Improvements included all-wheel drive and electrical contact. One innovation was the "Hi-Fi" drive mechanism, employing small rubber bands to transfer motion from the motor spindle to the axles. Another was the double-ended ring magnet motor, which permitted easy connection to all-wheel-drive assemblies. Athearn was also able to incorporate flywheels into double-ended drives.

The company produced a model of the Boston & Maine P4 class Pacific steam locomotive which incorporated a cast zinc alloy base and thermoplastic resin superstructure. It had a worm drive and all power pickup was through the bipolar trucks that carried the tender. This item was discontinued after the Wilson motor was no longer available, and was not redesigned for a more technologically advanced motor.

Athearn's car fleet included shorter-than-scale interpretations of passenger cars of Southern Pacific and Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad prototypes. The company also offered a variety of scale-length freight cars with sprung and equalized trucks. The cars could be obtained in simple kit form, or ready-to-run in windowed display boxes. The comprehensive scope of the product line contributed to the popularity of HO as a model railroad scale, due to the ready availability of items and their low cost.

Irv Athearn died in 1991. New owners took control in 1994, but continued to follow Athearn's commitment to high-quality products at reasonable prices. Athearn was bought in 2004 by Horizon Hobby. Athearn was then moved from its facility in Compton to a new facility in Carson, California. In mid-2009, all remaining US production was moved to China and warehousing moved to parent Horizon Hobby. Sales and product development was relocated to a smaller facility in Long Beach, California.

Read more on Wikipedia and Athearn website.

Item created by: Alain LM on 2016-08-10 11:17:44. Last edited by gdm on 2018-06-08 08:41:21

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