Browse the LE 844 ALCO Northern construction photo gallery
Browse the UP 844's Auxiliary Tender construction photo gallery
Delivered between 1937 & 1944, Union Pacific operated 45 Northern Class locomotives which were built in three classes. These locomotives were initially tasked with hauling passenger trains such as the Portland Rose, the Pacific Limited, the Challenger, and the Overland Limited. However, as the railroad dieselized, these iron brutes were reassigned to freight service on the UP.
As mentioned above, the FEF Northerns were built in three classes. The twenty FEF-1’s, numbered 800-819, were built by ALCO in 1937. The FEF-1’s were soon supplemented by fifteen FEF-2 class Northerns, numbered 820-834, which ALCO built in 1939. These locomotives had several improvements which included: larger cylinders, taller driving wheels, smoke deflectors, and a better tractive effort. This class also received a fourteen wheeled centipede tender which was an upgrade over the twelve wheeled tenders which were used on the FEF-1 engines.
Finally, ten FEF-3 class Northerns, numbered 835-844, were delivered in 1944. These were the last steam locomotives built for the Union Pacific Railroad. Of the 45 locomotives in the 800 series, only four managed to escape the cutting torch. #814, an FEF-1, is preserved in Council Bluffs, Iowa at the Rock Island Railroad Museum. #833, an FEF-2, is on static display at the Utah State Railroad Museum in Ogden, Utah. #838, an FEF-3, is stored at the Union Pacific Steam Shop in Cheyenne, Wyoming and is being used for parts for the only locomotive in the 800 series which was never retired, the FEF-3 #844.
#844 was the last steam locomotive ever built for the Union Pacific Railroad. When the railroad dieselized its passenger services, #844 was reassigned to freight service between 1957 and 1959 in Nebraska. Dodging the scrapers torch in 1960, the #844 was preserved for excursion and public relation service; an assignment which is ongoing to this day. The locomotive has become the Union Pacific’s Living Legend.
Selecting The Little Engines ALCO Northern
I’ve been involved in the live steam and backyard railroad hobby since 1995 when my father and I first visited the Illinois Live Steamers. That experience kindled a love for the hobby that has persisted to this day. For years, I was interested in building a live steam locomotive of my own. Finally, I decided to take the plunge. Over the Winter of 2017, I began researching the prospect of producing a build series for The Steam Channel which would cover the process of constructing a live steam locomotive. I began researching vendors, locomotives, tooling, and many other elements that would be relevant to the series.
My research continued throughout the summer of 2017…until I attended the Buckeye Limited Convention held at the Mill Creek Central Railroad in Ohio. While at the convention, I had the privilege of seeing two Little Engines ALCO Northerns under steam. These were impressive locomotives that immediately caught my eye as I’m a fan of northern class locomotives. With my attention captured, I reached out to Mike Venezia, then owner of Little Engines, and discussed the prospect of a building series. Mike embraced the idea and we got the ball rolling on this project.
With the Little Engines ALCO Northern selected, one question was still outstanding…which northern locomotive should be modeled. My choice was between three prototypes: the 844, the SP GS-4 Daylight, and the CB&Q O-5 Northern. While I liked the O-5, I did not like the design enough to invest the resources required to model it in 7.5" gauge. The decision was between the 844 and the SP 4449; ultimately, the 844 was selected for its sleek, simple design.
As of Fall 2023, the chassis for the Union Pacific 844 is currently being completed by Andrew Pullen of Liam Locomotive Works. Once work on the chassis and smoke box is completed, the project will be headed back west and Montgomery Rail Car will be handling the remaining work to complete the locomotive. Work on the 844's auxiliary tender began in January of 2023. We are expecting this tender to be completed by Montgomery Rail Car and delivered in December of 2023. Work will begin on the 844's primary tender in the fall of 2024.
The Building UP 844 series will follow the process of building a 1.5" scale live steam ALCO northern offered by Little Engines.
In this series installment, we will show you the process of water-jet cutting our northern's frames and binders. We will also highlight the machining work required to finish these components.
We will highlight the process of finishing off the journal boxes, driver castings, axles, and crank pins for the mighty ALCO Northern; we also highlight the process of pressing the main bearings onto the axles, the pressing of the crank pins into the drivers, and the pressing of the drivers onto the axles.
We will highlight the process of finishing off the journal boxes, driver castings, axles, and crank pins for the mighty Little Engines ALCO Northern; we also highlight the process of pressing the main bearings onto the axles, the pressing of the crank pins into the drivers, and the pressing of the drivers onto the axles.
We will cover the fabrication of the spring rigging and brake brackets for the mighty ALCO Northern
In this video we will highlight the fabrication process of UP 844's stainless steel side rods.
In this series installment, we will highlight the fabrication process of UP 844's cylinder block, cylinder heads, cylinder sleeves, and the steam chests.
In this video, we will cover the fabrication and assembly of the pilot truck for UP 844.
In episode 8, we’ll give you an overview of the initial work to complete the trailing truck for our big ALCO northern. This video shows the initial construction of the trailing truck as it was completed by Gemini. Revisions will be made to the truck by Liam Locomotive Works which will include keyed pedestal binders.
Your support and contributions will help us bring you our "Building 844" video series and teach the next generation about steam locomotive preservation & construction.
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