Goin’ To Kansas City

Goin’ To Kansas City cover

Pentrex

Length: 95 minutes

Time Period: 2000

Locations: Kansas

MSRP: 29.95

Ride along in the locomotive cab on a BNSF vehicle train. Pentrex has viewers inside a GE Dash 9 C44. Experience what it is like to travel across Southeastern Kansas. Board BNSF train V-OKCMCI at the crew change location in Arkansas City. The 225 mile route covers some of the Arkansas City Sub, complete Douglas Sub, and much of the Emporia Sub to Argentine Yard. See a plethora of trains from the ground as well.

Crew changeDetailed narration will have the viewer informed regarding the train movements. Sharp camerawork and pro audio gives a feeling of being there, with the BNSF crew.

lister                                    Engineer Kevin Lister gets us safely underway.

leboVeteran railfans likely have watched some cab rides before. This show is much more than a typical locomotive mounted in the cab routine. Ever changing viewpoints are the ticket.

rearview                                        Our vehicle train stretches out on a curve.

emporia                                      Basic maps are used to outline the areas traveled.

hougal                                                    Houston to Galesburg.

matfield green Matfield Green is the scenic area in the show. Hills and curving trackage are unexpected on a show from Kansas.

bazarA Phoenix to Willow Springs train creeps by on a long passing siding, at Bazar.

conductorConductor Brandon is the man in charge. Here, he communicates with the dispatcher.

z wspaltMeets are plentiful. Train Z- WSPALT is another of the many Willow Springs moves.

ottawa             Post merger BNSF has a variety of paint schemes on the locomotives.

all bnEmporia subdivision is very busy. This container freight is fronted by a now rare lash-up of solid Burlington Northern, Cascade Green power.

Goin’ to Kansas City is an outstanding show by Pentrex. It is highly recommended. Most railfans should find this program enjoyable. Older children might find it interesting. This is one of the best from Pentrex.

Rating: 5 Stars

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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.

chessie

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

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.

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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

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

The Heritage Series: Then and Now- The Sand Hills Subdivision

The Heritage Series: Then and Now- The Sand Hills Subdivisioncvr

Diverging Clear Productions

Length: About 2 hours total

Two DVD-R set

Time Periods: 1989 and 2010-2012

Locations: Alliance, Raveena, Broken Bow

Sources: George Redmond (1989),Mary McPherson

MSRP: 25.00

The exact same premise as Crawford Hill. This sub operates on the other side of Alliance, Nebraska. Presentation is about the same. This release even shares the same introduction and a handful of shots from Crawford Hill. Not necessarily a bad thing.  Likely, only hardcore fans or area residents would need both programs.

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Disc 1 contains Burlington Northern circa 1989. Original video by George Redmond. The videographer did a fine job of shooting the BN. Imagery and composition are nicely done. Only some yellow skies and minor flares are the flaws. Both programs offer, basically the same railroad equipment. More pacing shots in this show. Flatland running is the major difference. Greater emphasis on close-ups.

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Disc 2 contains BNSF from 2010 and 2012. This was shot by Mary McPherson. Pro level camerawork. Mary has upped her game in all areas. More variety of locomotives and paint schemes compared to Crawford Hill.

mapThe map solution works like a charm. Frequently used and the brief glance keeps pace with the show.

pacerMary has an outstanding pacing sequence of this train. Check her guitar playing in the background. The way the locomotives are so well framed and combined with the music. A memorable scene is created. You just know that this person loves trains!

ravennaRavenna is a crew change point. A show highlight which demonstrates just how busy this route has become.

ravenModel railroaders will find Ravenna a location with good possibilities. The overhead walkway for example.

sd40Cascade Green livery looked great on the long profile of the SD40-2. The extra length balanced the large numbers with the cab lettering perfectly.

 

Comparisons to, Heritage Series: Then and Now- Crawford Hill…

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What is worse then having to sit through a long, 2 disc set of repetitive coal train shows?

Answer: Having to sit through a second, nearly identical set of repetitive coal trains!

u30Which is better?

A split decision. The BN is more engaging on the Crawford Hill. Helpers and better scenery. BNSF has more locomotive variety on this Sand Hills show.

dusk

Is there a tiebreaker?

Yes. The shorter length of Sand Hills makes a more enjoyable overall view. Compare to the longer Crawford Hill show, that just drags on endlessly.

Your mileage may vary.

Rating: 3 Stars