Mallard 75: moving a loco 75 feet sideways and 1800 miles east

How to move something that weighs over 100 tons 75 feet sideways and then about 1800 miles to Halifax, Canada – over twice the distance from Lands End to John O’Groats? So that then all you need to do is to ship it across the Atlantic.

That’s the challenge Andrew Goodman of heavy haulage specialists Moveright International has been dealt, on behalf of our museum and the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA – where A4 No. 60008 Dwight D Eisenhower has been residing since 1964.

When Andrew and his team had managed to move Dwight D Eisenhower, all they had to do was to move on to Montreal to pick up Mallard’s other overseas brother, 60010 Dominion of Canada, and move that to Halifax for onward shipment to Liverpool.

Dwight D Eisenhower and Big Boy

Dwight D Eisenhower and Big Boy

The whole Dwight D Eisenhower move finally got underway when US customs released Moveright’s box of tricks – a large container shipped from the West Midlands complete with loading ramp, jacks, chains and so on. (The ramp had been built back home in four days – it usually takes a month). On 19 July, this container arrived in amongst the ‘Cheeseheads’ (as fans of the Green Bay Packers refer to themselves – Wisconsin has a large dairy industry and supplies a lot of US cheese).

The ‘box of tricks’ was followed by the flat wagon with rails on top to transport the loco, This came from Central Canada (so, no distance in relative terms!). Then there was the small matter of going sideways 75 feet, which took about eight hours. At one stage this left the venerable A4 looking like it was piloting the US ‘Big Boy’ (if there’s such a game as ‘Fantasy Train Operations’, then that surely is a must).

American wrecker firm on hand to assist with winching the loco onto the flat car

American wrecker firm on hand to assist with winching the loco onto the flat car

Once that was done, and the ramp assembled, ‘Not A Problem’ Goodman merely had to have some substantial wheel chocks welded onto the rails on the wagon. This and a lot of chains meant that the North American rail system, not famous for its delicate handling of goods, delivered 60008 to Halifax in good order on Saturday 18 August.

Then it was a case of getting the transporter wagon and loading ramp to the Canadian Railway Museum in Montreal from Halifax – a mere 775 miles – so that 60010 Dominion of Canada could follow Dwight to the port for onward shipment, which is planned for 10 September.

Dwight D Eisenhower at Rockingham Yard, Halifax

Dwight D Eisenhower at Rockingham Yard, Halifax

Loco stored ready for shipping

Loco stored ready for shipping

Given Andrew’s long experience of moving locomotives in the UK and overseas, he had built in a good margin of time in case of problems, although the North American rail system and US customs had managed to take up a lot of the slack.

If the 2008 ‘Great Reunion’ – when four A4s were together for the first time since the 1960s – was a must see event, this ‘even greater reunion’ will make our celebrations of Mallard’s speed record even more of a reason to travel to York. After all, wherever you live in the UK. the journey will be a lot less than two of the main exhibits have taken to get to the party!

Photos courtesy of Andrew Goodman at Moveright International. The rest of the photos are available on Flickr.

About Bob Gwynne

I am Associate Curator of Rail Vehicles and author of books on Flying Scotsman and Railway Preservation in Britain.
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11 Responses to Mallard 75: moving a loco 75 feet sideways and 1800 miles east

  1. Greg. Tingey says:

    Assuming the show is not the complete shambles this years Railex was: – having to walk half a km to traverse two tracks, & nowhere near enough book & ephemera stalls …..
    I’ll come.
    [ I’ll execept the BofB memorial fly-past – THAT was good. ]

  2. Ian says:

    I really like trains and I didn’t know that there are six A4’s!

  3. Greg. Tingey says:

    Six REMAINING A-4’s
    Mallard, Union of S Africa, Bittern, Sir Nigel Greley, Dominon of Canda, & Dwight D Eisenhwer (ex-Golden Shuttle: so one of the locos constructed for the “west Riding Limited” service)

  4. Luke Darby says:

    So looking forward to the event! All the remaining A4’s together will be a once in a lifetime for me I should imagine. I’d love it if there was a progress tracker type thing, a google map perhaps, where you could see where they were whilst travelling. I’d love to catch site of the convoy en route once it hits the UK, again it’d make for 1 off photography. Still a little shocked about the condition of DoC, have to see what she looks like once here, but the metalwork does pretty bad from the photos. (Oh and no, I’m not finger pointing, without the Excel custody, DoC would probably have been for the chop)

  5. Richard M says:

    I’m an ex-pat Brit living in Wisconsin and what’s funny about this story is that I was at the railroad museum in Green Bay the day these photos were taken. My train loving friends from England was visiting on holiday along with his family and I had been telling them for a while that the Green Bay museum has an A4, so they were looking forward to the visit.We turn up at the museum and all we can see is the tender, but no loco – only to find that it’s a few hundred feet away in a private siding, being loaded up for its trip. What makes the story really funny is my friends live in York and visit the NRM often. So they’d travelled thousands of miles to almost miss seeing it, when a few weeks later they’d have been able to pop down the road to the NRM and see it there! :)

  6. Peter Blencowe says:

    I have waited all my life for this . I could never, ever have stepped onto a plane. A pathological fear of flying, meant that I would probably have died and never seen Golden Shuttle. I would pay whatever the NRM asked to see her. Can’t wait !

  7. Derek Uttley says:

    Living in Ottawa, Canada, three hours drive away from the Montreal Railway Museum, the annual pilgrimage to Dominion of Canada has been a regular event for the Ottawa British, a group of ex pat Brits who have built a British outline model railway layout that is exhibited and operated each year in August at the museum. This year we were excited to see D of C being rolled out from its usual location in a rehearsal for its impending travels to the UK for Mallard 75. I have to admit that the condition of D of C leaves much to be desired, but it is my personal opinion that the museum staff may not have realized what a historic gem they had in their collection. Other Canadian locos appear to get most of the attention given the limited resources that Canadian museums have available to them. D of C, currently in BR green livery, will be returned to its original as built configuration, with valences and single chimney and will be painted in its original livery of Garter Blue. The “paint job” is being paid for through donations. As well as individuals, members of the British Railway Modellers of North America (BRMNA), as a group, have helped raise money for this. So, on its return to Canada, in two years time, it will be welcomed back by an enthusiastic group of A4 lovers. I am hoping to make the trip to the UK in 2013 to share in the Mallard 75 celebrations. I clearly recall getting off the train at Kings Cross, as a lad, and to my delight, walking past Mallard as she rested after her trip from Darlington.

  8. Hugh Mc Comb says:

    I have the 6 A4’s in limited edition sets, just can’t wait to see them (I shall be travelling from Northern Ireland), used to travel on the East Coast during my working life. roll On July 2103.

  9. Stephen Neilson says:

    Looking forward to the ” reunion ” of the A4’s here in the UK, should be a spectacular sight.
    The A4 is my MOST favorite BR locomotive, so much so, that I have eighteen different A4 running locos in my model collection, and are my pride and joy.

    • MY favourite has to be the Southern Railway Merchant Navies. Imagine 35005 Canadian
      Pacific alongside D oc C. Prior to its modernisation amd removal of the air~smoothed casing. Beautiful! …


  10. Pingback: Mallard 75 – the story so far | National Railway Museum blog

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