Big Boy 4004 to return to original glory

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CHEYENNE, Wyo.- The largest steam engine in the world is getting a makeover. Only eight Big Boy Steam Engines remain, and two of them just happen to be located in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Both are undergoing restoration after years of wear and tear. CBS NewsChannel 5 took a closer look at the Big Boy 4004 project happening in Holliday Park.

Big Boy 4004 Project Manager Mike Pannell of Wasatch Railroad Contractors says he has been working on trains for more than 20 years, but he's never had the opportunity to work on a project quite like this one. Pannell said, "I couldn't have even imagined doing this if someone had asked me what I'd be doing in 20 years." He added, "This is just the best project there is, to be honest."

The goal is to bring the historic icon back to its original glory when it was constructed in 1941. Pannell says although it will never run again, the locomotive sitting in the park will soon be more of a proactive exhibit.

A large part of the repair process will be removing asbestos. Pannell said the locomotives were built with asbestos
installation back in the 1940's. He added, "You could actually see the asbestos, so it was time that it had to be dealt with."

After receiving several touch-ups, Pannell says the plan is to have the headlight working and the exhibit lit up in the park. He said, "We really want to bring it back to life as much as we can."

However, with any object that large of size and nearly 80 years old, the restoration team says there will be some challenges. Pannell says they have a team of four who work carefully and methodically. The project manager said not only will Wyoming's weather be a challenge but also added, "Everything is such on a huge scale that removing it requires lots of huge wrenches... and lots of effort to do it."

The scheduled date to have the project completed and unveiled by is June 28th, but Pannell is hoping it will be ready for visitors and train enthusiasts during Depot Days.

The Big Boy restoration project is funded by the city. Nearly $300,000 is set aside in the budget to help with the process.