Union Pacific FEF Series

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Union Pacific FEF Series
Steam Locomotive No. 844 - Del Rio, TX.jpg
Union Pacific 844, the only FEF-3 operating.
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Builder American Locomotive Company
Build date 1937–1944
Configuration 4-8-4
UIC class 2′D2′ h2
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Driver dia. FEF-1: 77 in (1,956 mm),
FEF-2/3: 80 in (2,032 mm)
Wheelbase Loco & tender: 98 ft 5 in (30.00 m)
Adhesive weight FEF-1: 270,000 lb (122.5 tonnes),
FEF-2/3: 266,500 lb (120.9 tonnes)
Loco weight FEF-1: 465,000 lb (210.9 tonnes),
FEF-2/3: 483,000 lb (219.1 tonnes)
Total weight FEF-1: 830,150 lb (376.5 tonnes),
FEF-2/3: 908,000 lb (411.9 tonnes)
Fuel type Coal (No. 5 fuel oil on FEF-3)
Fuel capacity Coal: 50,000 lb (22.7 tonnes),
Oil: 6,000 US gal (22,712.5 litres; 4,996.0 imperial gallons)
Water cap 20,000 US gal (76,000 l; 17,000 imp gal)
 • Firegrate area
100 sq ft (9.3 m2)
Boiler 86 316 in (2189.2 mm) diameter
Boiler pressure 300 lbf/in2 (2.07 MPa)
Heating surface 4,224 sq ft (392.4 m2)
 • Tubes 2,204 sq ft (204.8 m2)
 • Flues 1,578 sq ft (146.6 m2)
 • Firebox 442 sq ft (41.1 m2)
 • Heating area 1,400 sq ft (130 m2)
Cylinders Two
Cylinder size FEF-1: 24.5 in × 32 in (622 mm × 813 mm),
FEF-2/3: 25 in × 32 in (635 mm × 813 mm)
Performance figures
Tractive effort FEF-1: 63,610 lbf (283.0 kN),
FEF-2/3: 63,750 lbf (283.6 kN)
Factor of adh. FEF-1: 4.24
FEF-2/3: 4.18
Operators Union Pacific
Class FEF-1, FEF-2, and FEF-3
Numbers FEF-1: 800–819,
FEF-2: 820–834,
FEF-3: 835–844
Delivered FEF-1: 1937,
FEF-2: 1939,
FEF-3: 1944
Disposition FEF-1: one preserved, remainder scrapped,
FEF-2: one preserved, remainder scrapped,
FEF-3: one in excursion service, two preserved, remainder scrapped

The FEF was a series of three steam locomotive types owned and operated by the Union Pacific Railroad. The classes were: FEF-1; FEF-2; FEF-3. "FEF" was an acronym for the wheel arrangement, "four-eight-four."


During the late 1930s, the rising trainloads started to exceed the limits of the then in use 4-8-2's, which were the mainstay of the UP passenger operations. One day, in 1937, with UP President William Jeffer's business car in the rear, a "7000" Class 4-8-2 demonstrated the lack of steaming power inherent in the type. Even when the train was waiting for rescue, dialog by telegram was sent to Alco in Schenectady, with a view of something better. The result was a superb class of forty-five locomotives.


FEF-1 814 on display in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

The first twenty locomotives, numbered 800-819, were delivered by Alco in 1937. The "800"s as a whole followed - like Northumbrian 108 years earlier - the simplest possible arrangement of only having two outside cylinders. Fitting Alco's lateral motion devices to the leading coupled wheels eased the negotiation of curves. Complicated accessories often spoilt the basic simplicity of so many US locomotives, but UP resisted most of them, resulting in an elegant, uncluttered appearance. Despite frequently moving at speeds over 100 mph (161 km/h), the forces and stresses on the coupling and connecting rods were kept within acceptable limits. There were thus excellent results, and there were many reports[citation needed] of reaching the design limit of 110 mph (177 km/h).


FEF-2 825 in 1943.

The second batch of fifteen was delivered in 1939. These had several improvements, including larger cylinders, better tractive effort, taller driving wheels, and smoke deflectors on the sides of the smokebox. The greatest change, however, was the provision of a fourteen wheeled “pedestal” or “centipede” tender, in place of the twelve wheeled ones of the first twenty locomotives. Thus, the first locomotives became known as "FEF-1," whilst these were known as "FEF-2."


Union Pacific FEF-3 844 near Kosse, Texas.

Except for the use of some substitute materials, the final batch of ten were nearly identical to the FEF-2. After World War II, coal supplies were affected by a series of strikes. In order to safeguard operations, UP converted the 800s to oil burning, and a 6,000 US gallons (23,000 l; 5,000 imp gal) tank was fitted in the bunker space. Otherwise, few modifications were needed to insure years of mainline service. These were the last steam locomotives delivered for the UP. 844, the last of the FEF-3 class, is the longest continuously operating 4-8-4 engine in the world, and the only one never retired by a Class I railroad. Like many of the "late era" steam locomotives, their final design was cut short by the advent of new monarchs of the rails, diesels. "Although it is stated that the UP FEF series were designed to safely operate at 120 mph (190 km/h), no one really knows how fast the final 4-8-4 could go" (Steve A. Lee, Manager of Union Pacific Steam Program).

Surviving examples[edit]

Type Number Owner Location Current Status Notes
FEF-1 814 Rock Island Railroad Museum Council Bluffs, Iowa Display
FEF-2 833 Utah State Railroad Museum Union Station, Ogden, Utah Display
FEF-3 838 Union Pacific Railroad Union Pacific Steam Shop, Cheyenne, Wyoming Stored Source of spare parts for 844.
FEF-3 844 Union Pacific Railroad Union Pacific Steam Shop, Cheyenne, Wyoming Operational The only steam locomotive never retired by a North American Class I railroad.[1]