Tehachapi: SP and Santa Fe era

Tehachapi: SP and Santa Fe era cvr

Charles Smiley Presents

Length: 2 hours 48 minutes + preview section

Time Period: 1960′s to 1990′s.

Locations: Caliente, Walong, Cajon Pass, Palmdale Cutoff, Barstow Yard, Taylor Yard, Bealville and much more..

Sources: T. Wegman, N. Rath, T. Jocelyn (Kodak film). J. Perry, G. Pagliaro (video)

MSRP: 28.50

Tehachapi Loop is one of the most famous railroad locations in the world. Rich in history, the area is a hotbed for; trains and railfan photographers. This show covers over 30 years. Southern Pacific and Santa Fe are the featured railroads. Charles often expands with a ‘above and beyond’ presentation style. While there are a variety of Tehachapi titles on the market, and some are well done. The uniqueness of a Charles Smiley offering is worth consideration- even if you have others. This new release could be definitive- let’s review.

gp30The shot that everyone wants to see. This train will reveal all Santa Fe GP30 locomotives in the lashup. This is where a train passes over itself, on the Tehachapi Loop.

ssw sd40tNotice the cleaner locomotives of the vintage SP. A Cotton Belt SD40T is on point.

f7sPassenger trains are included. Mail trains on the Santa Fe. Ride an SP move.

f45               The Santa Fe F45 is captured in warm looking, California daylight.

taylor yardTo use a single word for Taylor Yard circa 1978… crowded! Model railroaders will surely appreciate these scenes.

alco s                        There are plenty of Santa Fe pinstripe scheme diesels.

routesJudicious usage of his custom made maps can display, routes, elevations and trackage.

storeNaturally, the expected location names are here. Additionally, Cajon Pass, Taylor Yard. and San Bernardino are a sample of what else is visited. Some of these are featured at length.

palmdaleHistorical aspects are another cornerstone within CSP shows. See the 1967 Palmdale Cutoff. A freewheeling narrative that is highly detailed. Charles performs the narrative. This is non scripted, and contains a master class on railroads.

bw spSoundtrack has a large supply of natural and builder accurate locomotive sounds. Various musical backgrounds are another part of the audio. The narration is balanced with some non narrated  trainwatching.

gp60This program is a double feature. There is contemporary, 1990′s era Tehachapi. Vintage film has a great overview of Southern Pacific and Santa Fe operations in the 1960′s and 1970′s.

f7Viewers will enjoy 90 minutes of digitally restored and enhanced vintage Kodak color film. This feature alone, is worth the price of admission. A wide assortment of locomotives and views. This is frame by frame restoration. Charles has the goal of providing the best for viewers.

alcoHelpers are operating both mid-train and as pusher sets. The Alco units were demonstrators. Learn about SP and why some locomotives were pulled from the mainlines.

boxcars spSome nice scenes that display the freight cars of the time. Interesting, to compare the shades of boxcar red on this train.

u36c

sp u33c                    Santa Fe GE U36C locomotives and SP U33C class, are discussed.

smokeAs this Southern Pacific freight exits a long tunnel, the sooty exhaust billows from the hole.

spsfOil Can train with an SD40T-2, in SP Kodachrome repaint, as a mid-train helper.

90s sp

90sAfter the vintage centerpiece, we are returned to the 1990′s. Both of these eras are enjoyable.

sf cabWe have just skimmed through a show that exceeds 2 1/2 hours. There is much more to see.

sp cab                                               Tehachapi: SP and Santa Fe era

Charles Smiley has the definitive Tehachapi program here. Combining vintage and modern, this high quality production is an immediate classic. Railfans and model railroaders will find this new release a comprehensive overview of Tehachapi Loop, with surrounding areas. This great show is easily in the top of the Charles Smiley Presents catalog.

Rating: 5 Stars

Extreme Trains: Circus Train

Extreme Trains- Circus Train

History Channel

Format: 2 DVD set

Length: 44 minutes. Single Episode

Time Period: 2008 and some vintage circus film.

Locations: Baltimore to Washington, Steamtown USA, Palmetto, Fl.

Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus

Episode From Extreme Trains- Season One

Host: Matt Bown

As a fan of both railroad and circus, this title does get my attention. Does the presentation mix the two subjects together well? Do we get the desired mix of circus animals and iron horse?

t1                                       A Ringling Brothers train is a long one at nearly 60 cars..

t2

spare tireMatt Bown is our energetic host. He’s a hands on, let me try that type of guy. In this episode we see Matt shovel both manure and coal. Wow Matt!

3Final performance night with the Ringling Brothers Circus at Baltimore.

5

trainmasterThese programs are packed with  behind the scenes action. The Trainmaster is  the man who is in charge, as far as this private train goes. The amount of work to prepare and move the circus is formidable. Time constraints add pressure to maintain the schedule. Maintenance and emergency repair tasks can be unexpected. Professionals , the Ringling crew gets it done.

 

upThe night loading includes horses and elephants being loaded. We find an elephant with a mind of its own.

A brief visit to Steamtown is the centerpiece of the historical aspect of the circus train.

This is a fun and informative program. There is quite a bit to see here. We are carrying some livestock. The Ringling Brothers are sidelined for a CSX freight. Decades ago, a circus train with animals would have had priority. Matt misses this point, so you readers are one up on him. Yes, livestock transportation had many rules and could rate higher than even passenger trains! Matt does a great job of telling the stories of circus trains and educating the audience about this one.

pie carWe get back underway and a hungry Matt visits the piecar. Check that tasty looking food.

Another sidebar visit shows the circus mechanics with old car shells that will be rebuilt for the train.

unload

offAs expected, we make it to DC. Now, we need to unload the train. Setup is a huge production.

pusherThis program is fast paced and balances history with the modern era.

walkThe Greatest Show On Earth parades down city streets… Love the elephant walk!

matt bEnjoyable program for all ages. One of the series best episodes.

Rating: 4 Stars

Extreme Trains: Overnight Traveler

Overnight Traveler- Extreme Trains

History Channel

Format:  2 DVD set

 Length: 44 minutes

Locations for episode: Chicago to Seattle.

Source: Extreme Trains- Season One

Host: Matt Bown

Updated and illustrated review.

Here is a single episode from the series called, Extreme Trains. Matt Bown hosted various shows in this set on railroading. A good collection of programs that are fine for beginners. Additional information that sometimes, can keep veteran railfans interested as well.

This is the story of the Amtrak Empire Builder. The modern version of a former Great Northern, premier passenger train. Viewers will experience the trip from, Chicago to destination at Seattle.

215Comprehensive  look at the contemporary era Amtrak passenger train. Coverage that features: equipment, employees, and the journey.

chicago union station tower                                           Chicago Union Station tower view.

james hillA fast-moving and varied presentation.  Historical aspects and modern operation are both well researched. This is very informative and fascinating journey, over a classic train trip. Rich in history with some great scenic vistas! A sidetrip to Steamtown for good measure.

MonocoqueCompare the 4250 horsepower of a single Genesis, to the 1500 hp of a 1950′s EMD F7A.

Mono diagramMatt kicks off the show with a segment on the power for the Empire Builder. Two General Electric Genesis locomotives. The design is called a Monocoque. A single, lightweight shell that mounts to the chassis. The shell is akin to a load bearing aircraft fuselage. Check one of the diagrams shown.

loco pit matt eddieAt the Chicago Amtrak facility. Matt walks with an Inspector, underneath the eleven cars in the inspection pit. Safety is first and foremost. An overview of the preparation for the soon to be outbound train is complete.

conductorThe conductor is ready for an on time departure from Union Station in Chicago.

cabA cab ride contains a discussion on speed and safety features on the locomotive.

snowAnother fun sequence is Matt on a snowmobile, on the original (abandoned) Cascade Tunnel line. The early switchbacks are discussed with some more history of building the line.

cascade tunnelA feature on the 8 mile long Cascade Tunnel is a highlight.

lights

pan

A nicely done program. Good for the whole family. Quite different from the majority of standard train videos. Matt is a lively and hands on type of host. The many tasks that he tries do convey the hard work and care of Amtrak employees.

Rating: 4 Stars

Illinois Central

Illinois CentralILLCentral_DVD

Green Frog Productions

Format: 2 DVD  set

Length: 2 Hours 20 minutes

Time Period:1950′s-1980′s

Locations: Chicago, Homewood, Kankakee, Winery Rd.,Freeport, Centralia, Bradley, Peotone, Monee, Fulton KY, Jackson Miss.,

Sources: Jerry Carson, Steve Neff

MSRP:

This program has 2 main themes. Steam and early diesels, in the 1950′s, as filmed by noted photographer Jerry Carson. A modern Illinois Central , videographer is Steve Neff. How does this combination work?

chicagoNearly 40 years of Illinois Central history , is contained within this 2 disc set. There is an 8 minute slideshow included. Narration has on or off feature.

homewoodHomewood , construction began in 1919, to Markham yard completion in 1926, it is the largest yard on the IC. It sure looks different with steam engines. The film is.. in color! Some of  roundhouse area is shown. Berkshire 8000 series 2-8-4 , Mikado 2-8-2, Mountain 4-8-2, all pulling freight trains.

2815The images are crisp and the sound is matched up fine. It sounds great. Fast paced action and the narration is informative. Big 2-10-2 freights lead to Freeport and the yard. More ICRR steam shown at: Olympia Fields and Winery Road. Mountain types are all over. Big Four passenger trains pull various cars: NYC, C&O, also; green heavyweights, mixed with stainless.

1597 mikadoMany trains. Some high priority Mikado led meat trains. Check those steam era freight cars too! This all color segment is very enjoyable. A little black & white footage follows. Surprisingly, more color and close-up, trackside film at Kankakee.The trainwatching continues, at numerous places. Passenger train waits on meat trains. A banana train.. This is tightly edited, and nonstop action. Watching this 45 minutes is simply…fun!

 centraliaVintage diesels are next on the show. The final run of the City of Miami, before Amtrak.  Black GP9 plus Orange and White GP9, GP 18 units. Some torpedo tanks, equipped for dual service.

9349

gp8New 6 axle SD40 ,U33, GP10 Paducah rebuilds. E unit passengers in early Amtrak service. GP40 types in both schemes. A fine look at classic Illinois Central diesels.

gp38ac

 

2038

The second half is a contemporary Illinois Central. A leaner, meaner IC complete with a new logo is on this dvd. Steve Neff is a talented videograpgher. Like many modern videos, some other roads are included: BN, Amtrak, Conrail, UP, Santa Fe, BAR. Some weathered ex: ICG painted locos are present. The trains themselves have changed from the earlier years. Unit trains; coal, grain, tofc and there are still general merchandise. The smalltown branchlines, are gone from the new IC.

 1403

Highlights: Tuscola visits, the night shots at Centralia and Carbondale, a pacing shot, Effingham has many trains. It’s the modern era IC for sure.

cc 85The final section has the Chicago, Central & Pacific, formed after the ICG garage sale. Interesting older locomotives in: former IC green diamond, IC, ICG orange, Milw., and red Chicago Central.

6004

This half is a good look at the new Illinois Central. Sound is crisp, narration fits,  and the video is very good to excellent. There is a repetitive feel , sameness of standardization. A good show, just not in the same class as the ICRR of yesteryear.

2Green Frog has taken us for a 40 year tour of Illinois Central.

9125 cabDigitally remastered images and sounds on the entire set. Very high standard of production. All things considered … part one alone, is worth the price of admission.

Rating 4 stars

Rio Grande Odyssey

Rio Grande OdysseyRGO

Green Frog Productions

Length: 2 1/2 Hours

Time Period: 1960′s to 1980′s

Locations: Denver, Moffat Tunnel, Royal Tunnel, Tennessee Pass, Leadville, Soldier Summit

Source: Emery Gulash

MSRP: 39.95

2014 Updated..

The Denver & Rio Grande Western in the Rocky Mountains. A healthy dose of steam operations on the Rio Grande narrow gauge is here. Speaking of steam, a standard gauge Burlington Route 2-8-0 is shown, working at Leadville.

cal zephyrA balanced presentation of, freight and passenger trains. Fascinating viewing.

Natural, scenic beauty is often the setting, for this train video. Emery Gulash made multiple visits there. His 16mm color film camera recorded the action. At 2 1/2 hours, there is good coverage of the Rio Grande. The 2 DVD’s are a worthwhile upgrade over the old vhs format. Chapter menu. Stereo sound. Train sounds by Emery . Fine, basic narrative by Bob Carrera.

2We begin in May 1964. The Wasatch mountains have F7A/B and GP9 locos. The F unit mid-train helpers were a surprise to Emery. Soldier Summit is a showcase for the weathered, covered wagons. This is mountain railroading! Great scenery, and over to Castle Gate. Denver Union Station is featured with the CB&Q, UP and DRGW trains.

5102 tt                                      DRGW 5102 rides the turntable at Alamosa.

antonitoIn May 1960, the dual gauge operation is shown and continued in 1964, at Alamosa and Antonito. Intriguing segment to say the least.

Matched sets of GP30,GP35, SD7, F7 units make for interesting viewing. The California Zephyr is frequently included.

rgz moffat 72The 2nd half is at Moffat Tunnel in 1972. Grand Jct. is a busy division point.

tippleA limestone operation is a highlight visit. Two GP- 30 locomotives are busy at work.

 

leadville                               Burlington Northern / Colorado & Southern action.

bridge                                            Wide variety of cabooses are seen.

dusk                                 Emery was great at mood shots. Dusk falls at Helper.

tennessee pass 2                              Mid-train helpers at Tennessee Pass. Much more….

cabGreen Frog has another excellent entry in their Odyssey series. This set is fantastic!

Rating  5 stars