British A4 Pacific starts the long journey home

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Jim Wrinn
GREEN BAY, Wis. – A famous British steam locomotive that has been displayed in the United States almost 50 years began its long journey home to the United Kingdom early this morning after a crack team of locomotive movers extracted it from its berth at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay.

Passing within inches of the Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 Big Boy and Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electric that have shared the display hall built around them in 2000, British Railways A4 4-6-2 No. 60008, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was slowly moved sideways some 80 feet on a steel track system using automated hydraulic jacks. A British moving company and Canadian National employees worked for 10 hours before placing the 1937 British Railways steam locomotive on an active track.

The National Railroad Museum in York, England is borrowing the locomotive for two years as part of a celebration in 2013 of the record A4 speed run by sister engine Mallard. Another A4, the Dominion of Canada at ExpoRail in Montreal, Canada, is also being borrowed in the U.K. for two years as part of the event. Both engines will travel together on flatcars to Halifax, N.S., where they will be loaded onto a ship for transport to Liverpool, England. From there, they will be trucked to York. The plan is to gather all six remaining A4 steam locomotives for the 75th anniversary of the Mallard’s world record speed run in 1938

While locomotive exchanges and loans are common among tourist railroads and museums within the U.K., which has upwards of 2,000 operational steam locomotives, such arrangements are rare in the United States, and they are even more scarce on an international level.
The A4 locomotive move in Green Bay Sunday on night and Monday morning was preceded by the tender being placed on live track Saturday night. Both engine and tender were to be placed on flatcars for tie down on Tuesday.
At first, the Eisenhower, which was named Golden Shuttle until 1946, refused to budge, resisting the efforts of a come along winch and a forklift, but a larger Caterpillar forklift and hydraulic jack helped the engine to move along. The engine would not clear the Union Pacific Boy front coupler until Trains Editor Jim Wrinn pointed out that the coupler retracts. The museum had to use a forklift to push the GG1 back 4 inches for the A4 to clear.

A film crew from the television series Monster Moves was on hand to document the work and plans to air an episode. During the Eisenhower’s absence, the museum plans to make prominent the two private cars from the World War II general’s command train, which have been displayed with the locomotive.
The locomotive arrived in the United States in 1964 and, with the exception of a display in Abilene, Kansas, in 1990, has never left Green Bay.

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