Pacing! 25 Years Along the High Iron

Pacing! 25 Years Along the High IronPacing-

Diverging Clear

Length: 3 1/2 Hours

Time Period: 1986- 2013

Locations: Illinois farmlands

Source: Dunn, Jensen, McPherson, Redmond

Producer: Mary McPherson

MSRP: 25.00

This new release by Diverging Clear should be subtitled: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. A 2 disc set. One is dedicated to 25 years of steam. The 2nd is 25 years of Diesel.

cn 5432Canadian National on former Illinois Central rails in 2013.

The show is action driven. Constant movement of the locomotives on the screen.

mpEach disc features 25 trains. There is a Chapter Menu. The volume level of the loading and menu portion is way too loud. It needs to balance with the program. The sound level will blow one put of the room.

sou 2638The Good: A nice assortment of Steam and Diesel. You would think the Steam would win a pacing show hands down. The drivers, the stack talk and the steam whistles are a formidable array. However, the Diesel portion is equally interesting. Theses are almost all rare. That is in the sense that the everyday operations of the late 1980’s and some 1990’s are not widely available in a pacing format.

4501Southern 4501 has one of the best whistles in the set. Great tone and it sounds ‘wet’.

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Most DCP shows do contain pacing sequences. Many of those presented are in the form of extended chase scenes.  Depending on individual taste, you can watch it or hit the ‘next’ button to skip ahead.

The Bad: Steam has some excessive wind noise. The type that has the potential to damage audio speakers.This is unfortunate. Skipped a few scenes that started out with loud pop and crackle noises. Having a raised volume is just plain fun with steam engines. Diesels is far better and the noise only occasionally is an issue.

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The Ugly: Diesels has those familiar old VHS cassette tape issues that are common. Work has been done to color correct. The source tapes can be a nasty challenge for anyone. Like many other train videos, the scarcity of the subject material can be the deciding factor.

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Steam is loaded with the usual performers from the time period. NW 611, UP 3985, NKP 765 and 567, Soo 1003 plus L&N 152 are some. Black Hills Central, Ohio Central, and Northern Pacific are the ones not beat do death everywhere.

261 2000Milwaukee Road has a few appearances. In 2000, the wind noise isn’t annoying or present.

1522

Frisco 1522 is too common on this show. Variety in the form of actual vintage whistles used. Kurt Jensen does the very minimal narrative. Good plan, the locomotives are well suited to task. Each scene displays informative graphics.

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Today’s technology should have rendered the wind noise inert. Just doesn’t belong on a year 2014 production. Various options could have improved the sound, including assorted substitutions.

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That being said, This program does offer the chance to see 50 trains being paced in one set. The diesel variety seems to have a great mix of period lash-ups. The Heritage Series parallels the roadnames on this set. A few exceptions at the end. Ohio Central F units and modern BNSF ‘whatever they are’ set to music.

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The producer has stated this release is a response to railfan requests. The bottom line for all viewers amounts to your choice. If you seek this footage- here it is. Can be adequate for pacing,as long as you consider it’s shortcomings. If you are hesitant to shell out. Similar and same action is available in many DCP programs.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars

A Quarter Century of Steam

A Quarter Century of Steam25

Diverging Clear Productions

Length: 4 1/2 Hours

Time Period: 1985-2010

Locations: Midwest, East, and more..

Sources: Jensen, McPherson, Redmond, Tom and Kyle Dunn

Producer: Mary McPherson

MSRP: 30.00

Where can you find 65 steam locomotives in a train video? Diverging Clear has just released a pair of DVD’s that are packed with over 4 hours of steam action. Many locomotives are found here. The usual suspects are ever present. Railfans already can guess those examples that were running during those years. Union Pacific, Nickel Plate, Norfolk & Western are the major ones. Frisco, Southern Pacific, Pere Marquette, and Southern are some others.

sr 4501Southern 4501

A small sampling of what you will see in this show . There is much more. Many locomotives no longer are in service. There is plenty of fine cinematography. Kids will love this one.

3985 Union Pacific 3985.

ssw 819bCotton Belt 819

There are rarities to be enjoyed. Viewers will see operating steam power that is no longer in service. Re-lettered locomotives such as former Canadian railroads round out the selection. Special excursions and train museums, are where the trains operate.

black hillsBlack Hills Central encounters a mother deer and doe.

A variety of sizes and classes are here. Diminutive narrow gauge. Large Northerns from UP and Milwaukee Road. Passenger power. Consolidations, Mikados and Shays. Strange looking Chinese steam, on US rails. Articulated, with UP, N&W. Saddle tanker and even a replica of an early 440 steamer.

slsf 1522Frisco 1522 in a stunning scene. Reminds one of classic Emery Gulash. Some engines, like this one are shown very often. Ditto for UP 844, UP 3985, NW 1218.

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Kurt Jensen does minimal narration. Title screens offer the bulk of information. The program is better when Kurt adds more information.

grand canyonGrand Canyon

The show is arranged in chronological order. As one would expect, the quality increases over the timeline. 1985-2010. Editing is smooth. Sometimes, the lower quality is all there is of a rare scene. In that case, it’s better then nothing.

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East Broad Top.

pm 1225Pere Marquette

soo 1003 2007Soo Line

mil 261This scene with Milwaukee Road 261 recalls the spirit of Lionel trains .

261A Quarter Century of Steam: 25 years. The show does contain many steam engines. It fulfills the advertised content. This reviewer does find the program overstays it’s welcome. There is too much repetition of the same engines. After awhile, the proceedings end up an excessive series of runbys. Seems that an hour or more would have served better. if presented as a separate bonus section.

gtw ocOhio Central has a restored Grand Trunk Western and more.

cn 89 strasburgCanadian National 89 is one of several steam engines seen at Strasburg, Pennsylvania.

There are 2 identities of DCP. There is the ‘new and improved’, with tight editing and sharper scripts. There is also the earlier incarnation. That has endless footage and simple narrative. This show falls into the early style.

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It is geared as a basic ‘Best of DCP Steam’. That all being said, this is worthy for the assortment and the rarities. If those are appealing, jump on it!

Rating: 3 Stars

The Illinois Central 1990 (The Heritage Series)

The Illinois Central cover1990: Single Tracking The Mainline of Mid-America

Diverging Clear Productions

Length: 72 minutes + extended bonus + previews

Time Period: 1990

Locations: Centralia, Carbondale, Cobden, Effingham, Bluford…and more

Source: George Redmond

Producer: Mary McPherson

MSRP: 20.00

Here is a brand new 2014 Heritage Series from Diverging Clear Productions. This is their avenue for older, video sourced railroading in the 1980’s to 1990’s. Uncommon shows.

Illinois Central is a railroad that frequents Diverging Clear Productions. It’s close proximity to this producer yields an abundance of source material. Similar to the earlier Illinois Central Gulf in the Heritage Series. This represents an additional opportunity to visit a past version of Illinois Central action. The year 1990 and a downsized, black and white powered IC.

8310By this time, the former expanded Illinois Central Gulf was downsized. Newly created regionals like Chicago Central were operating spun off sections of the ICG. Another new element in this updated ICRR. was a project to single track the Illinois mainline. For those who railfanned the double tracked line for decades, an odd sight to behold.

map 1The Illinois Central was a rare railroad. A North to South traffic orientation, versus the common East – West pattern. DCP again employs this clever map solution.

8743Repainted into a new version of the black, green diamond scheme. the locomotive roster  achieved a uniform look. Compared to the plethora of ICG’s rolling museum of predecessor colors. The road looked cohesive, if somewhat less interesting.

carbondaleThe new logo appeared to resemble the AT&T image. Large numerals on the engine hoods seemed sized for steam tenders. The green diamond was in use on Chicago Central & Pacific. Yet, in multiple unit lash-ups, the power of the green diamond was retained.

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icgAnother observation of train watching circa 1990. The freight cars still wore some 1970 and 1980 paint schemes. This show contains an assortment of: non graffiti, covered grain cars From old gray Illinois Central to orange IC and ICG. Various boxcars are seen.

2011Narrative includes background on Paducah rebuilds. The SD20 model was unique.

George Redmond was trackside in 1990. He is the videographer for this and other Heritage Series shows. The camerawork is steady and the shots are well composed. The quality is good. Age has effected the original tapes. The producer has color corrected as much as possible. This 2014 release has the best quality of IC related Heritage Series shows.

While the title and year highlight the single tracking of the mainline. Many scenes do contain both tracks. Some were still in service or recently retired. Mary has included a few still photos that she took of the transition. ‘

amtrak city of new orleans                                 Amtrak, The City Of New Orleans arrives at Centrailia.

Arranged in chronological order. The program features action along the mainline in Southern Illinois. Mary narrates and gives relevant information. The show flows along smoothly. Natural audio is predominant. A handful of trains are chased. There is some pacing too.

3024                                                           This program is action packed!

frankA special extended bonus feature is worth a look. Tour of ICRR 4-8-2 2500. A former ICRR engineer gives the display engine a detailed tour and explanation in about 30 minutes. He covers everything on this steam engine. Interesting.

cabooseThe Illinois Central 1990. Gives viewers exactly what they expect. If you seek more variety, the Back in Black release has predecessor liveries. Both are similar. This one is a continuation of the previous program. This newer show looks better.

Rating: 3 Stars

Pullman Rail Journeys – Rebirth of an American Legend

Pullman Rail Journeys – Rebirth of an American Legend cover

Diverging Clear Productions

2014 Release

Length: 53 minutes + preview section

Time Period: 2014 with some vintage film.

Locations: Chicago – New Orleans roundtrip

Sources: Mary R. McPherson, Kurt I. Jensen, George Redmond

MSRP:20.00

Here is a new take on an old favorite. Most railfans are aware of classic train era Pullman service. Operating their renowned cars on such famous passenger trains as: The 20th Century Limited, Broadway Limited, Panama Limited and the Super Chief. This was luxury level travel, aboard the finest trains in the country. The experience was an integral part of the journey.

amtrak city of new orleans locomotive                      What does this historic aspect have to do with a 2014 Amtrak train?

So happens that our producer Mary McPherson, is also a real life Amtrak conductor. Her regular assignment is on The City of New Orleans. Another train that is rich in history. Viewers will take a roundtrip on this train. However, we will travel in style, aboard a 70 year old, updated and refurbished, genuine Pullman car. While the Amtrak cars are nice, this trip is unique.

Those familiar with Diverging Clear Productions have witnessed an evolution in their programs. Improvements in equipment, and overall production are a welcome sight in the train video market. If you have seen some of the earlier releases, you are in for a nice surprise. The level of professionalism has been on the upswing over time. Mary has been on a mission to offering railfans improved releases.

Let’s see what her and her companions have been doing aboard the Pullman…

Kurt Jensen is a familiar voice on DCP programs. The script is well written. An abundance of narrative covers quite a bit of ground. In a classic style, A chapter of Pullman background opens the show, along with some vintage film.The structure of the Pullman crew is informative.

Chicago tail         Fast forward to present day, in Chicago. Amtrak #59 – The City of New Orleans.

20th century limitedThis 1950’s scene appears to be on the New Yprk Central 20th Century Limited.

dinner 2014                                                     Here we are – at dinner, in 2014.

This trip offers interviews that interpolate with Kurt’s narrative. We will hear from a few members of the Pullman team.

moore Jody Moore is one. He is a natural for on-screen work. All of his discussions are clear, and he is just a good listen.

chi night 2The overall cinematography on the 2014 shots is first rate. Solid and smooth. Mary favors night scenes and they are all nicely illuminated. The various scenes are smartly chosen. This is Chicago. Amtrak/ Metra yard.

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Editing is smooth. Each chapter has a definite close. In fact, this show is one of the tightest edits that DCP has released.

Musical interludes, natural sounds and even more vintage cuts, are intermingled throughout.

Iowa Pacific is the entity that: collects, restores and operates these cars. They are all painted in the old, Illinois Central passenger scheme. Lettered for the current road. Original,chocolate and orange livery.

hammond la In both directions, some classic train stations are seen. They are beauties.

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Rick Hansen discusses specifics of what Pullman crew members actually do on their jobs. All of the Pullman personnel are fine communicators. This is likely a big part of why they are in these positions.

cn 2727 A note of interest. This train traverses the Yazoo District since the 1990’s. A deviation of the original Illinois Central route. Strange for me, to see Canadian National power this far south. A new age indeed.

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The return trip is exactly that. However, their are some surprises. I would have liked even greater detail regarding  – what happened here. It is still good, a little more story needed, for the family viewers benefit.

Also on my want list would be a brief tour of the car interiors.

iowa pacific memphisPullman Railway Journeys – Rebirth of an American Legend. A fine program for the entire family.

For those seeking a train program that is about current railroading, this one is interesting. The hour you spend here, will pass quickly. The hallmark of an enjoyable show.

Mary, you have come a long way. Congratulations!

Viewers, this show is highly recommended.

Rating: 4 Stars

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.

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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