• Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 Big Boy

    <center> <h1>NALW's Big Boy</h1> <h3>By Nels Anderson (4 July 2002)</h3> </center> <a href="/images/reviews/bigboy/steamtown.jpg"> <img src="/images/reviews/bigboy/steamtownt.jpg" width=250 height=151 align=right border=0 alt="Big Boy #4012 at Steamtown"></a> <h3>Introduction</h3> Since Microsoft Train Simulator first came out just over a year ago, probably the most asked for add-on has been a Big Boy locomotive. Now, thanks to the team at NALW, the wait is over and the Big Boy is ready to roll in MSTS.<p> By at least some measurements, the Union Pacific 4000-series, 4-8-8-4 articulated steam locomotives built by ALCO and known as "Big Boy" are the largest steam locomotives ever built. Every aspect of them is huge and watching one in action is awe inspiring.<p> UP and ALCO worked together in the early 1940's to upsize earlier locomotive models and the resulting Big Boy went into active service in 1941. A total of 25 were built, in two groups, and were operated for many years. Today eight of them still survive, including the one at the <a href="http://www.nps.gov/stea/" target="_blank"> Steamtown National Historic Site</a> pictured at the right. <br><br clear=all> <a href="/images/reviews/bigboy/side.jpg"> <img src="/images/reviews/bigboy/sidet.jpg" width=250 height=188 border=0 align=right></a> <h3>NALW Big Boy</h3> Now, for MSTS we have our own Big Boy created by the North American Locomotive Works (NALW). The team consists of J-C Baerenz who is responsible for the model, textures and shape. Graeme Cox created the fully working cab. John Fowlis contributed high quality textures. Sounds and physics were done by Chuck Schneider, Harold Clitheroe and John Fowlis. Finally, lighting was done by Kelley Ellison. Quite a big team to create quite a big locomotive!<p> One of the reasons it has taken so long to get a train-sim version of the Big Boy is that, like its real life counterpart, this is a very complicated locomotive. Doing a diesel locomotive is relatively easy--it's one unit in a more or less box shape. A steam engine in comparison is a much more complex shape--it boggles the mind just watching the valve gear turn, much less trying to fully understand and recreate it. A typical steam engine is also two units, locomotive and tender, but the Big Boy is actually three since the locomotive part is articulated. So figure the basic job as three times the effort of your typical diesel, not to mention the pioneering efforts involved in figuring out how to articulate two of the parts properly, and you get an idea of what went into this design. (In fairness, Joseph Spinella did create an articulated Beyer Garratt quite some ago so the Big Boy is not the first articulated, but it's quite a different locomotive from that earlier release.) <br><br clear=all> <center> <a href="/images/reviews/bigboy/cab.jpg"> <img src="/images/reviews/bigboy/cabt.jpg" width=250 height=188 border=0></a> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <a href="/images/reviews/bigboy/3dcab.jpg"> <img src="/images/reviews/bigboy/3dcabt.jpg" width=250 height=188 border=0></a> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <a href="/images/reviews/bigboy/top.jpg"> <img src="/images/reviews/bigboy/topt.jpg" width=250 height=188 border=0></a> </center><p> The NALW Big Boy comes with an installer and using it couldn't be easier. Just unzip the file you download, run the .exe file and click a few buttons where prompted. Anyone who has installed any Windows software will have no problems here. Once installed, the locomotive is available to use. You can add it to your own consists or use one of the two consists provided (a single locomotive or a 49 car mixed freight). When creating your own consists make sure you use all three parts, and in the right order.<p> As you can see in the many screen shots here, the results are quite successful. NALW has truly captured the look of the Big Boy. The little details have not been forgotten either, such as a visible backhead seen from the outside. Watching all the moving parts work is a joy and when first beginning to move with smoke and steam coming from many sources the locomotive almost seems alive.<p> <center> <a href="/images/reviews/bigboy/closeup.jpg"> <img src="/images/reviews/bigboy/closeupt.jpg" width=250 height=188 border=0></a> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <a href="/images/reviews/bigboy/front.jpg"> <img src="/images/reviews/bigboy/frontt.jpg" width=250 height=188 border=0></a> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <a href="/images/reviews/bigboy/tender.jpg"> <img src="/images/reviews/bigboy/tendert.jpg" width=250 height=188 border=0></a> </center><p> Now, nothing is ever quite perfect and that's the case here. Some locomotive textures do not seem quite as sharp as they could be. Other recent release such as Just Trains' <a href="https://www.fspilotshop.com"> American Classics</a> and 3D Train Stuff's <a href="/images/reviews/record/record.htm">UK Record Holders Of Steam</a> have set very high standards in this area. But the Big Boy is a larger locomotive and perhaps some tradeoff to help frame rates was required. The cab bitmap is also not as good as some recent releases, but then getting a photo of a real locomotive cab, where it's dark and everything is black, presents an almost impossible challenge. The moving parts and gauges are clear though, so the cab view is very usable.<p> <a href="/images/reviews/bigboy/fullside.jpg"> <img src="/images/reviews/bigboy/fullsidet.jpg" width=250 height=188 border=0 align=right></a> <h3>Conclusion</h3> In conclusion, this release has been well worth the wait. I've only spent a very brief time with the Big Boy so far but will surely be spending a lot more as I'm sure many train-simmers will be. This add-on is a remarkable achievement by the team at NALW and well worth the 16 megabyte download.<p> <p class="enhanced"> Nels Anderson<br> <a href="mailto:[email protected]">[email protected]</a> <br><br> Visit the TrainSim.Com file library to download.</p>
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