Vignettes of the Burlington Northern, Volume 3

vignettes-of-the-burlington-northern-volume-3-dvd-2

Producer: Clear Block

Timeframe: 1950’s- 1970’s

Locations: Washington, Montana

Sources: Ken Bealer, William P. Price

Length: 60 minutes

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Burlington Northern Volume 3. The 1970’s BN. Contains introduction pre-merger film of: CB&Q, GN and NP. On paper, this one appears to be a big winner for Hill lines enthisiausiats.

Keep in mind. Clear Block Productions have proven to be inconsistent to me. They always talk a great game. Read on.

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Program opens strong with some, hard to find vintage Burlington Route. End credits list William P. Price as a film source. I would bet, this was his film.

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Great Northern is present, as well. A good shot here. Weak overall, inclusion for GN material.

This pre-merger section is the worthwhile portion of the video. Lack of a descriptive narration keeps it second rate.

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Northern Pacific checks-in. A nice chunk of steam and diesel. Uh-oh. Here we go again! Solar flares (not). Familiar red/ yellow flaring , as seen in previous B&O Vignettes. Thanks Clear Block! More like Mud block in this case…
Well… That film is pretty old. Things should greatly improve on the newer 1970’s Burlington Northern film. Right?

Narration is very sparse on this show. My guess is the original notes, had little more then, general location and date. Nothing more is usually offered for the rest. Except the source. Ken Bealer. Have seen his name elsewhere. Doesn’t ring a bell. Certainly, not a negative one.

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Truth be told. Another train in the rain.  These scenes appear to be a collection of outtakes. They look like remainders or rejects. They are pretty poor overall. I am extremely dissappointed in this DVD. I can’t believe this is out there, for sale!

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Likely, this program could have been significantly improved, via some basic, post- production work. Contrast, color balance, brightness etc…

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Too many scenes are washed out. Others have way too much sunlight bouncing off the train.

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Oddly enough. This show uses more maps and on-screen graphics! Even a rudimentary chapter menu. As if to try and polish the show up a little bit towards respectability.

The actual train edits are rough around the edges. Quick cuts that seldom allow a viewer to see a boxcar. Often, the edits are jarring. It gets tedious.

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Color balance is generally close to non- existent. Those bright and bold colors, of the 1970’s are shadows, of what they should be on the screen.

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Most of the Vancouver shots are in rain. Too much of that! Sloppy presentation.

Live audio is really good in some scenes. Not enough to save this show.

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Another observation regarding the editing decisions. Boring, same looking Amtrak consists are shown in their entirety. Feels like the filler that it is used for.

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It is the bootleg quality presentation that ruins the enjoyment. Nice train Clear Block! Much of this show is nearly unwatchable!

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I came here for BN freight. Hump yard gives a few box cars, at this distance. Little else for Model Railroaders. Pass on this one.

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1979 was the year that Bealer went in search of still operating F units. One of the best looking scenes is this one. Rare in this show. Not all that great either.

Yakima Valley receives a very brief visit. This one minute looks good. I came for Burlington Northern… Why does this BN often look so crappy?

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No way does this one receive a good recommendation.
If you are interested in a good, informative vintage focused Burlington Northern program. Forget this waste.
I normally do not do this…
However. Clear Block just wasted my money, time and effort. I will save you time, effort and your own money!

Just order the quality Burlington Northern: Charles Smiley Presents- Empire of the North. You may find this one and can be happy. Life is too short.

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Vignettes of the Burlington Northern Volume 3.

Save your money on this dumb, overblown release.

Junk in the Trunk!!
Rating: 2 Stars

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A 1960’s Train Travelogue

A 1960’s Train Traveloguecvr

C Vision Productions

Length: 65 minutes

Time Period: 1960’s

Locations: Marinette, Charleston, Naperville, Ontario, Wisconsin and more..

Sources: Joe Siedl,. Lynn Longley

MSRP: 29.95

C Vision surprises us, with another new source of upper midwest vintage railroading. This cinematographer also traveled to Canada. There are some hard to find lines and locomotives. Mid 1960’s timeframe is highly desirable. Filmed in color, on Super 8mm.

soo neenahJoe Siedl is the main cinematographer for this program. He had an Argus camera. Filmed alot around Marinette, Wisconsin. CNW and SOO are prominent. Canada has a big chunk of the program. Canadian Pacific, CN and Ontario Northland. Seaboard Coast Line is a highlight. Burlington Route is another feature. A few GG1 electrics too.

1535CNW 1535 is a GP7, with a Fairbanks Morse Baby Trainmaster.

Don Grant narrates the show. Music background is used to fill the rest. There is an off switch for the music. The keyboard player is pretty good. Improved overall music versus older releases. Basic narration is good with: locomotive call-outs, locations and some more. I have added a little extra information, for my readers.

soo gp35 gp30 stevens point 2                  Soo Line GP35 with a GP30 are at Steven’s Point, Wisconsin.

Camera appears to be handheld. For the most part, it is steady. A few scenes have some shakes or possible film jumps. Nothing to worry about. Colors look good. Film looks original, unrestored. Composition is well done. Graphics for locations.

Chicago and North Western is loaded with freight and passenger trains. Many locomotive types. CNW fans should be satisfied.

 

cnw f7 4052A peshtigoCNW 4052A at Peshtigo, WI. This is not an F3. Rather, an F9AM. A rebuild from original FT series, built in 1945. The 4050 series are tricky, with some being F3 before rebuilding. I had to look it up. Otherwise, what a sweet scene!

cnw 901 rs27Here is CNW 901 in 1966. Misidentified as an Alco C425. It is a rare Alco RS27. This occurs more commonly then you may realize on many train videos. Not worth bothering, except this engine has an interesting history. Purchased new in 1962. Traded in with the other 3 RS27’s after only 4 years for C425 models. Alco leased it and sold it to Precision National. Leased to Canadian Pacific. Sold to GBW in 1976. On to WC in 1987. Minnesota Commercial in 1992. Interesting…back to the show.

cp alco fa fbCanadian Pacific Alco FA/ FB combo. It is a maroon and gray CP seen in this era.

dh17What amounts to small segments: Green Bay and Western, LS&I. Milwaukee Road and Great Northern. A cameo on Delaware and Hudson. Former Santa Fe PA17 heads The Laurentian.

 

Joe was stationed at Charleston, SC. Circa 1968. Worth the price of admission for this chapter. A hard to find supply of Seaboard Coast Line. A fine variety of vintage diesels.

scl 585 e7   SCL 565 is an E7A. Seen at Charleston station. Also, are rare E6 and common E8 units.

scl 2006Could have filled the page with cool shots of Seaboard Coast Line activity. SD45 displays flags because it is running extra.

scl  959The GP9, GP18 lash-up includes some interim looking paint schemes.

cbqA bunch of Chicago, Burlington and Quincy at Naperville, Ill. Even in the 60’s this was a known hotspot. Triple track mainline all the way into Chicago. The freights were to Clyde Yard. Passenger action is plentiful. All stainless passenger trains look great. Chinese red and gray on the freights is a bonafide classic. The GP20 on the lead, was a hot mainline locomotive in 1966!

cbq 4960At Baraboo, Wisconsin. The circus train with it’s very colorful consisit of classic circus wagons. These wagons are loaded on flatcars. The loading methods used by the circus industry, helped develop early piggyback transportation. In this scene, Burlington Route 4960. a 2-8-0 Light Mikado hauls the train.

pbxOntario Northland Polar Bear Express. Joe caught some rare ON freight as well. Must see.

soo fp7aA classic scene of the mid-1960’s. A single four axle EMD locomotive with a freight train. This Soo Line FP7 is a classic.

Lynn Longley’s bonus section at the end doesn’t match the quality of the main show. It will not be factored into the rating. A few minutes of 1950’s Milwaukee Road. Poor to fair at best.

scl 2007 rearNot much in the way of cabooses in this show. We shall close with a passing SD45 leading 4 F units from the SCL yard. The high horsepower units were strong entries in the headlong race for more power. Mixed in with this unusual lash-up of 1950’s era covered wagons. The F unit engines that defeated steam. A modern second generation model that would replace the earlier diesels. Atlantic Coast Line merged with Seaboard Air Line. All pass into history.

A 1960’s Train Travelogue. Here is a worthy assortment of circa 1966-67 railroading. The rarities make it one that railfans may need. It plays well and the nonstop action passes the time quickly. Overall, a nice release to add into a collection.

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.

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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

WP Vintage West

WP Vintage Westcvr

Charles Smiley Presents

Length: 90 minutes

Time Period:1950’s- 1980’s

Locations: Systemwide and more

Sources: 18 includes: Gary McClain, John Illman.

MSRP: 29.50

The history of Western Pacific is covered in depth. There is a plethora of additional subjects, connecting roads, shortlines and Oro Dam construction. Sacramento Northern and Key System are part of the story. Rio Grande has a large chunk as well. For those who want to delve into a historical Western Pacific program, this is your ticket.

high line locosUtilizing 18 different film sources could be a challenge. Digital restoration has everything looking nice. Mostly appears to be 8mm color film. Cameramen are generally excellent. Steam, early diesel, traction continues into Perlman Green.

3519 rainAudio has a high percentage of varied musical background on this show. The variety of music is interesting. Less train sounds then some other CSP shows. This release is more of a PBS style program.

high lineCustom maps and on screen graphics are frequently used. Here, the High Line is introduced.

Charles conveys a wealth of information. As subjects, stories and locations change, the WP sometimes gets lost. The deviations can get long. This takes away from some of the punch.

fExtensive coverage of the California Zephyr is here. Burlington Route and Rio Grande also have plenty of time for their parts of this famous train. The show within the show in 2 chapters.

ride         Ride the California Zephyr on Western Pacific and Rio Grande- classic style!

drgw 5721Rio Grande is looked at in detail. Quite a bit of time is on Rio Grande. Fans of that railroad will enjoy the amount of: history, locations and more. Another show within the show.

oroOro Valley Dam construction is a key point of that area’s history. Plenty of that too.

711                                       GP7 is performing some street running.

ftEarly diesels. These FT units are part of the original wave that replaced steam engines.

keddie rainAt Keddie and in the rain. The rear facing GE U-23B, is part of a scene that is good for model railroaders, Note the 1968 or 69 Chevy Camaro SS. Old water tower and more.

4241The Burlington Northern provided run through power. These rare Alco locomotives and tons of BN freight cars display the solid relationship of WP and BN.

boxcars keddie wye                Plenty of classic rolling stock on freights. You can’t beat the scenery either.

3519Four axle power was used by WP. The GP40 and GP40-2 models were favored. The last third of the program covers 1960- 1980. Great chapter.

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Charles has two other Western Pacific programs available. Western Pacific Remembered was released in 2012. That one is my favorite of the trio. Western Pacific- The Last Decade is the other. All of these are reviewed here.

caboose                                         Greenway, Calirornia. The High Line.

WP Vintage West is a fine program. This one is rather quiet and feels a little flat compared to the 2012 show. All of the extra coverage of associated railroads is excellent. That does go pretty far off the Western Pacific story. A quality show, but not in my top rank for CSP.

Western Pacific is one of those railroads that are hard to find on film. This one is geared towards the history of this road and those other subjects. A must have for those so inclined.

Rating: 4 Stars

Corn Belt Railroads In the 1950’s

Corn Belt Railroads In the 1950’s cvr

C. Vision Productions

Length: 66 minutes + previews

Time Period: 1950’s

Locations: Des Moines, LaCrosse, Oelwein and many more..

Source: George Niles

MSRP: 29.95

A collection of midwestern action that includes some rare scenes. Steam and diesel, as well as an interurban gas car. Filmed by George Niles.  Wisconsin and Iowa locations. Passenger and freight. All color film. Narration and music soundtrack.

C Vision has this interesting variety of late steam and early diesel action in Corn Belt. The Rock Island stars for nearly half of the show. Milwaukee Road has plenty of screentime. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy is present. A little Chicago Great Western. An industrial train at Redfield Brick and Tile. Some definite rare trains and equipment are on hand in this program.

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The color 8mm films were shot by George Niles. He has various viewpoints that work well overall. At times he was too close to the trains. Fortunately, the majority of scenes have good composition. All of the films are pretty clean looking. There are some damaged frames too. Quality is good to very good. The colors are bright and vibrant. Perhaps these reels were well preserved somewhere.

4057 steam engineDon Grant performs the narrative. The script has some detail and good information. More narration would have been welcome. On / off switchable musical background. They have expanded from some earlier efforts in the music department. Relaxed pace and sometimes too laidback. Many locations and no maps are included.

grand towerAt Grand Tower. Baldwin S12 does switching. The 1951 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 is George’s.

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Locations are by on screen graphics and descriptive narration. Chapter menu and organization is nicely done. Editing is sharp and smooth. The only concern, is some apparent film skipping or camera jumping. Not much can be done there. The rarity means that viewers live with the flaws. Otherwise, it is mostly good, clean footage.

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Opening with coverage of Rock Island, near Des Moines, Iowa. What an awesome record of transitional era action. An overview of all types of activity. It has mostly slower speeds, that are conducive to trainwatching.

1215Original red and black paint schemes were a reflection of the 1950’s. Deluxe and attractive passenger equipment too. The Rock Island never looked as prosperous. It is a sight to see the different early diesels operating in new condition.

rock emd taCheck that super rare EMC TA as the trailing unit on a football game special! These were built in 1937 as a lightweight locomotive for smaller Rock Island streamliners. Rated at 1200 horsepower, they were the forerunner of the F unit series. Here, it just passes by quietly.

233Milwaukee Road 233 crosses over the high bridge at Des Moines. This is one of the spots, where he was too close to get good views of the trains.

milw f7a

The Milwaukee Road is also impressive. Some big steam operates along with the newer EMD diesels here. Between Des Moines and Spirit Lake, Iowa is a visit to a gas electric interurban on Milwaukee Road.

geThe Gas Electric train is ridden on a branchline to Spirit Lake. The exterior shows a typical ’50’s era scene. A steam era watertank and period automobile set the scene. This gas car action is very rare.

spencerA different age. At Spencer, Iowa the little train will encounter 3 steam powered locals. At Spirit Lake, see the engine on an Armstrong turntable.

1952Burlington Route has limited coverage. A 1952 view of a passing Zephyr moves slowly through a junction at Grand Tower.

cgw f3a

Chicago Great Western gets a few scenes. This is the Corn Belt scheme.

Redfield Brick and Tile is an industrial narrow gauge that is another scarce find.

rock island wood cabooseCorn Belt Railroads In the 1950’s, is one of the best vintage releases from C. Vision.

If you want to add to your vintage collection, this is a good choice. Railfans and model railroaders should enjoy this program.

Rating: 4 Stars