Topics Entertainment/ Rail Innovations
Format: 4 DVD set
Length: 3 1/2 hours
Time Period: 1950’s – contemporary
Locations: Canada and some USA
Sources: W.H.N. Rossiter (1950’s film). Rail Innovations for the 2816.
2014 Update: The set is discontinued. Greg Scholl Video Productions now owns the Rail Innovations films. Greg Scholl has the individual titles available. See his website.
Here is a 4 DVD set covering 2 main themes. The first half revolves around a Canadian Pacific Hudson steam locomotive. A show on the engines restoration. next is a long initial special run of the 2816. The 2nd half of the set has a pair of vintage films shot by Newton Rossiter.Each DVD has a chapter menu. All of this is housed in a plastic case with single spindle for the entire set. It is one of those value priced bargain sets.
Disc 1- CPR 2816 (Part 1) Restoration and Testing
The inner workings of what makes a steam engine work. To me, this is about as exciting as watching a film about auto shop. Yawn. OK, so let’s review it anyway. Is is any good?
If you want to see an old steam locomotive get boiler pressure test, see the inside of the boiler and listen to the very knowledgeable shop crew. This is you.
The locomotive is stripped for a frame-up restoration. Much of the work is contracted out and off site. Darn! The film crew is smart enough to travel offsite to film boiler repairs.
You will see the steel driver tires get trued and reinstalled.Very tricky job. The boiler arrives back, on a bulkhead flatcar. Nice load to make in HO scale. Get the wheelset and frame outside. A couple of cranes to lift the boiler, Voila’. Looks like a giant, cast metal kit.
Very soon, the 1930 built MLW Hudson gets a fire in her belly. The pace is slow here.
Like I stated, not my cup of tea. Maybe, it’s yours.
Disc 2 – Vancouver to Calgary 2816
Hey, things are looking up on this 2nd disc. CP 4-6-2- # 2816 sure is handsome. The ultra clean and freshly restored locomotive is getting a chance to get up some serious steam. There is a diesel behind the 2816, for help and insurance. At least the GP38 #3084 is an original style maroon & gray Canadian Pacific ‘heritage’, paint scheme. The engine is hauling passenger cars, on the special.
Fan trips are wonderful to participate in those events. On film, they seem to lose a little something. Likely, the old-time, original flavor of the steam era films. everything comes across a little to clean. I like the old style grit.
The video looks excellent and the narration is minimal. There is cab interior and exterior pacing of the engine at speed. as the train travels the countryside, it becomes a part of the green and blue landscape. Some fine shots of the train crossing bridges.Some The maroon cars match nicely. Too many passengers waving at the camera, what can you do?
There is some stunning scenery along the route. On screen graphics quietly divulge some locations. Appears the Columbia River was the very pretty setting.
Day 4 has a helicopter cameraman. This does feed us another style of trainwatching. Selkirk Mountains are dramatic! Snowsheds and riverside trackage too. Wow, Stoney Creek Bridge encounter! Big Fun.
This disc could be the best of the lot. Good, solid production. An enjoyable excursion trip.
The quickly paced program will have plenty of appeal to all. You can try this one on your woman. She may actually like this show. Kids will love this trip.
This one IS the best in the set. The Selkirks put this trip, over the top of this heap!
Disc 3 – Newt Rossiter: A Last Look At Steam
Rail Innovations- 2000
Time Period: 1950’s- 1960
Source: Newton Rossiter
Newt is a Canadian photographer. He narrates this show of his own vintage films. Background acoustic guitar music loop. No dubbed sounds for the trains.
In 1956 Newt is at the Calumet Roundhouse on The Nickle Plate Road. He also filmed the Berkshires and road trains.
DW&P in ’56. Rare film of this CN subsidiary and it is still steam-powered!
Grand Trunk Western in Illinois and Michigan.
Duluth Missabe and Iron Range. 1957 action with the humongous Yellowstones on ore trains. A fine segment with an interesting narrative.
North of the Border has Newt filming a CP steam fantrip. He continues with fantrips in 1960 and a 1971 finale.
This is all in full color and 16mm film. A good show. The better of the two vintage programs.
Disc 4 – Steam Memories of Ontario
Rail Innovations 1988
Length: 55 minutes
Time Period: 1950.s
Source: Newton Rossiter
Original photographer Newton Rossiter introduces this program. He is joined by other former employees of CN and CP. Everyone is reading off a script, Newt is pretty smooth. The others reading off a page: one man is fairly good and the rest struggle to read it and sound uncomfortable. Nevertheless, the info is worthwhile. An annoying attempt at a musical background is present. Yuck!
Newt sounds fine on the program. I could even live with the mostly, stiff readings by the real railroaders. However, combined with the irritating electronica, this show is almost unwatchable. This one would be better off with the mute button engaged!
Classes of Canadian Steam on CN and CP are viewed and discussed.
The film is clear and looks good. That 16mm film is nice.Plenty of runbys, in all weather.Just stick with the other show and be happy.
The Grand Total
This set is a bit of a mixed bag. The 2 discs that I liked are very good. The others didn’t get my motor running. Those two discs are worth owning. So, it is a split on the ratings.
Rating: 3 Stars