Union Pacific Vision Line Legacy Scale 4-8-8-4 Big Boy Review

posted Sep 1, 2015, 8:26 PM by Chris Lord   [ updated Sep 2, 2015, 7:01 AM ]

Big Boy Product Review by Kevin Martin,

NJ Hi-Railers Model Rail Road Club


My last product review was about the Vision Scale Reefers that Lionel cataloged in the 2014 Signature Catalog. These reefers are a perfect addition to the UP Vision Line Legacy Scale Big Boy and Auxiliary Water Tenders featured in the same catalog.

A little history, the UP engines were built in Schenectady, NY and got the name when one of the builders wrote the words “Big Boy” on the side on one of the engines. That name stuck. Today, UP has decided to rebuild the 4014 and put it back in service. This is an exciting time for the rail road industry and rail fans. Progress updates are available on the UP site as well as from key industry publications like Trains Magazine.

Lionel delivered the Big Boys with seven (7) different road numbers. The engines were issued in the following road numbers, are reflective of the ones that survive today and their locations:


UP 4004 – Cheyenne, WY                           UP 4005 – Denver, CO 
UP 4006 – St. Louis, MO                             UP 4012 – Scranton, PA
UP 4014 – Pomona, CA – Cheyenne, WY 
UP 4017 – Green Bay, WI                           UP 4018 – Frisco, TX


So, let’s look at the model. I am not going to review all the features, functionality or specifications. I will touch upon the ones that our members and those that visitors to our Open Houses seem to enjoy.

If you like smoke, this engine SMOKES – it has a dual smoke stack that pours out smoke at all speeds. If you put the shroud over the smoke stacks, only one of the stacks puts out smoke. This keeps the unit from overheating. The synchronized chuffing and smoke can be changed from alternating between the stacks to both stacks puffing smoke together.

The second smoke feature is the Whistle Steam effect. Like the 765 Berkshire this is a really cool feature. By pressing the whistle button on the cab remote, steam is emitted from the whistle. 
The third smoke feature is the Blowdown Steam effect which allows the operator to clean out the boiler of materials that accumulate while the engine is in service. Lionel made sure to add to that realism by putting blow down valves on each side of the fire box. So if smoke is your thing, slide the three switches to the smoke position, add your 20 drops smoke fluid and away you go. A little hint here, using all three smoke units at one time burns quite a bit of smoke fluid so have a large bottle of smoke fluid available as you will needed it.

Turning to the sounds, there are three on board stereo speakers, two in the tender and one in the engine. Lionel used high quality speakers to produce the sounds. Our layout is 185 feet long and 35 feet wide and the whistle can be heard throughout our layout room. When all 5 of our members have their BB's on the layout, the sounds are awesome.

As you operate your engine the coal load begins to deplete much like it did when the BB's roamed the rails. The harder you work your engine the faster the coal load drops. This function is tied to the Legacy Control System which allows for realistic consumption. When the coal load runs low simply activate the "refill" feature. If you listen closely you can hear the coal and water being added to the tender.

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