Kansas City Diesel Power Review

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Producer: Charles Smiley

Timeframe: 1996- 2000

Locations: KC, Olathe, Bonner Springs, Holliday, more

Length: 1 hour 52 minutes

Source: David Defendorf

Kansas City is second only to Chicago, for America’s railroad capital. A cornucopia of this era’s railroads pass through this area. This program focuses upon the diesel power. Viewers will not be put to sleep watching unit trains.

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A single silver, factory pressed DVD. These are manufactured at the same facilities, as used by some Hollywood companies. ChapterMenu is numbered. Plentiful, are the on-screen graphics.

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Custom made maps, a CSP standard. Details vary by requirements. Predecessor roads, locating junctions or suburbs. He makes  frequent use of various maps.

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Video quality is excellent. All of it has been digitally restored. The imagery is top shelf.

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Audio is very lively! These trains do sound off. Birds in fields are heard clearly. A few too many crossing bell scenes, but does move on.

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Charles does the narrative. He is much quieter, than usual. So, for those who feel that he talks too much. Here is your show!

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This almost 2 hour show extends beyond Kansas City limits. We visit hotspots and some rural looking places.

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The Bottoms is recognizable, as the old City section of KC. This scene and below, have details for Model Railroaders. Take note!

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Santa Fe Crossing is a classic location. Tower is visible in background. Modified GP7u locomotives, were still in daily service. Not bad, for Electromotive 1953 built diesels.

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Some additional hotspots, such as Olathe, Kansas. Very busy location.

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The Highline Bridge is unusual. An interesting place.

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Soo Line reached Kansas City, as well.

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The setup at Bonner Springs, yields a bunch of close-up trains. Apparently, a Dash 8 is loading too much fuel.

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A Chicago and North Western pair, passes by the camera.

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Kansas City Southern is a railroad that was based here for decades.

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Gateway Western is a relative newcomer.

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Even more action, with Conrail power.

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Norfolk Southern appears, with various trains.

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BNSF brings up different possibilities.

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It is mainly a Western Railroad show. Which brings up the question. What is the railroad that you think of, when Kansas City is mentioned?

vlcsnap-2019-11-29-17h38m07s252Rare find, is this Department of Defense caboose.

Kansas City Diesel Power Review.

Charles certainly delivers on the advertised. A trainload of diesel power! The large assortment of: locomotives, locations and railroads, keep it interesting. Definitive overview of the Kansas City area.

Rating: 5 Stars

 

 

 

 

 

CSX 5 Evansville to Chicago

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Producer: Green Frog

Timeframe: 1990s

Locations: Evansville to Chicago

Length: 1 hour

Source: Rob McCormack

I’m Volume 5 the CSX route is followed from the yard at Evansville, Indiana to the Chicago area. Mirroring the real world, there isn’t a whole lot to see in-between. Figured it would roll this way. The extended time spent in Evansville, tips their hand. Endpoints!!

vlcsnap-2019-11-19-17h25m59s585The production standards are the same as the previous volumes. A couple of improvements. There is a route map! The script is a better one. On/off narration. Chapter Search. Narrated by Bob Carrera. Enviornmental soundtrack. Also, available on the CSX Special set.

vlcsnap-2019-11-19-16h35m48s056Return to a single Videographer. Rob McCormack. Improvements in the visuals, as well. Solid and consistent. The show opens in Henderson. Just long enough to leave town. Here, crossing the Ohio River.

vlcsnap-2019-11-19-16h37m39s346Doesn’t this resemble a Model Railroad kit?

vlcsnap-2019-11-19-16h47m33s729There are outstanding night scenes around the Evansville engine servicing facility. Very well lit. Top notch video capture!

vlcsnap-2019-11-19-17h05m06s288A cornucopia of additional railroads make this an interesting show. Soo Line, Norfolk Southern, with Toledo, Peoria and Western, as well.

vlcsnap-2019-11-19-16h54m10s104The journey North towards Chicago is every bit as unremarkable, as one would expect. Not much to do, or see. They seem aware of this reality. Small towns are covered, as succinctly as possible. Decent trains along the way.

vlcsnap-2019-11-19-17h00m03s429Here is an Indiana highlight. An old coaling tower, still stands. CSX 7801, C40-8W.

vlcsnap-2019-11-19-17h04m46s761Danville has a small engine facility. A GP30 in a hard to find, early CSX scheme.

vlcsnap-2019-11-19-17h11m16s238Things quickly pickup in the Illinois half. Gilman, is a traditional Illinois Central hotspot. Didn’t know that IC E8s came in gray!

vlcsnap-2019-11-19-17h11m56s950Chicago and North Western #8523. A GE  C40-8, leads an Electromotive locomotive.

vlcsnap-2019-11-19-17h08m17s414Several locomotives in Pre-Merger paint. The Family Lines General Electric has seen better days.

vlcsnap-2019-11-19-17h13m19s115Of all things. Who would expect a Green Bay & Western with a Kankakee, Beaverville and Southern? Alcos to boot!

vlcsnap-2019-11-19-17h10m54s500Amtrak has several appearances.

vlcsnap-2019-11-19-17h16m31s575You know you hit Chicago, when it gets cloudy, and the weather turns bad. CSX C40-8W, at Crete. Bet it was on a weekend. Why? It always seemed to rain or snow then!!

vlcsnap-2019-11-19-17h19m24s093The variety, picks up around the Chicago vicinity. The Southside is this CSX Gateway. An Elgin, Joliet and Eastern SD40-2, leads a Duluth Missabe and Iron Range unit.

vlcsnap-2019-11-19-17h27m31s375Barr Yard, was the former Chessie System (B&O) classification yard.

vlcsnap-2019-11-19-17h26m41s378Thornton Junction is a Southside hotspot. Indiana Harbor Belt, a common sight, in that part of town.

vlcsnap-2019-11-19-17h24m27s827A freshly repainted Canadian National GP40, nee GT. This leads a lash-up, of Grand Trunk power. Note the Operation Lifesaver GP38, in the second spot.

vlcsnap-2019-11-19-17h28m21s417Dolton, another hotspot. Instead of the ubiquitous road power. Let’s see some Union Pacific switchers!

vlcsnap-2019-11-19-17h17m39s967Not a caboose, anywhere. So, we close a CSX Engineer waving, from this SD40-2. Which tells the story of a wave. Hello or Good-Bye?

CSX 5 Evansville to Chicago.

A worthy addition to the series. The use of the better end points, define this show. Train variety is excellent. Solid entry for CSX series.

Rating: 5 Stars

 

Railfanning Cajon and Tehachapi

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Producer: Charles Smiley

Timeframe: 1970 – 1993

Locations: Cajon Pass, Tehachapi Pass, Colton, San Bernardino,

Length: 1 hour 38 minutes

Sources: Jon Davis and more

Cajon Pass  and Tehachapi Pass. They are featured in this new release, from Charles Smiley Presents. This program looks further, than just those two areas. A desirable era, the includes films from the 1970s.

The single DVD is a silver, factory pressed disc. Same facilities, as used by Hollywood.

A numbered Chapter Menu, is included. CSP always provides, highest quality, custom made maps. Frequently referenced, and appropriate close-ups. Preview section of additional CSP shows.

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A multitude of on-screen graphics. Providing a variety of information. Sometimes, quite detailed which adds to the discussion.

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Sample of one map. Palmdale is being targeted. Color coded trackage.

Three Class One Railroads are all co-stars.

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Santa Fe

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Southern Pacific

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Union Pacific.

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Additional roadnames, such as Burlington Northern. Run through power, with Chicago and North Western.

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Audio has accurate to the locomotive sounds. Laid-back background music balanced the soundtrack.

Charles Smiley narrates. He his always, interesting and informative. Giving a wealth of knowledge, on these subjects.

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Film quality is excellent, overall. Digital restoration has great color balance. Appears to be predominantly 8mm sourced. Camera work is highly competent. Clear views of trains. All seasons.

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Cajon with snow. Amtrak passengers had a spectacular view!vlcsnap-2019-10-24-12h13m41s779Cajon Pass. There is a good amount of footage here. A welcome change from recent times! By this time, the Pinstripe Blue scheme has been replaced with the popular Warbonnet scheme.

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Of course, Santa Fe and Southern Pacific have the rails. Kodachrome repaints are easily found on Santa Fe.

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Colton has abundant trains. The yard leads and Colton Crossing. An SP Kodachrome.

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Of note. Talk about a pig train! A rare scene, is this move of hogs.

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Model Railroaders will be pleased. FYI- Charles has a fascinating Model Railroad. A plethora, of vintage freight and trailer on flatcars, roll by the camera. Eyeball, that blue L&N boxcar!

vlcsnap-2019-10-24-11h42m30s479Double – Diesels are a fine chapter. Electromotive gets the nod. DD40AX.  Built in 1969… Centennials.

vlcsnap-2019-10-24-15h27m21s404Static photographs augment the show. Earlier, DD35 units are also shown, on movie footage. 

Learn the background of the Double Diesels. The UP goals, and implementation.

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General Electric Turbines get looked at, as well. How did these Big Blows, relate to the later EMD units that followed? Answers within the show.

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Tehachapi Pass is well done. Different Cinematographers, with fine views on the scenes.

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Tunnels, in particular are a fine assortment.

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Good overview of Tehachapi area.

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Railfanning Cajon and Tehachapi. Comprehensive coverage of two, world famous locations. Additional areas simply add to this enjoyable show! The three featured railroads are classics.

This Charles Smiley Presents, checks all the boxes. What’s not to like?

Rating: 5 Stars

 

 

Michigan Ore Lines

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Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1989- 2019

Locations: Marquette, Eagle Mills, Escanaba, Munising, more.

Length: 1 hour 54 minutes

Sources: Drayton Blackgrove, Alex Christmas (bumpers)

Pentrex has an, updated and augmented, new release here. They have an older show, Michigan Ore Lines. The current, 2017-2019 footage has been added in front and back. These bumpers, bring this area current!

A bonus, vintage 1950s film. Michigan Ore has also been included. To top off this package. The Widescreen update, can be viewed seperately.

This release is jam packed! Comprehensive coverage. Let’s see some highlights…

vlcsnap-2019-10-21-11h04m06s517Lake Superior and Ishpeming, is the star of the show. Chicago and North Western, also appears. Escanaba and Lake Superior is included. LS&I GE U23C leads the train.

vlcsnap-2019-10-21-12h25m17s719Visual quality is source dependent. Naturally, the new footage has an excellent appearance. The 1989 video material doesn’t have the clarity on a modern, large screen. The color balance is mostly fine on the older video show. Restoration work has been done. Just don’t expect modern viewing on the older video.

vlcsnap-2019-10-21-15h21m28s264This is a single DVD-R. A Master Show Menu is included. Ore Lines has it’s own detailed Chapter Menu. On-screen graphics with additional information. No maps. A Preview section, of more Pentrex shows. FYI- they usually are generous on previews.

vlcsnap-2019-10-21-11h02m04s284The original show, was produced by Dan Hadley. It is narrated by Paul Meinke. Natural audio. Good, balanced audio.

The new segments are Pentrex. Dave Drui narrates this portion. Fascinating information. Razor sharp videography!

vlcsnap-2019-10-21-12h23m30s903GE AC44CW units are leased to LS&I. This is Presque Isle. The Ore Dock is immense.

vlcsnap-2019-10-21-12h28m09s672Revealing, are some aerial sequences. The area will make sense, after following these views. Smart, to shoot in this fashion!

vlcsnap-2019-10-21-11h19m25s605Excellent views of ore loading. Aerials, as well. Learn the dock operation.

vlcsnap-2019-10-21-11h48m58s247Trio of RSD15 engines. The Yard Job. Two other assignments are: The Dock Job and The Hill Job.

Alcos have some personality. Some can really smoke it up. They have those sounds, that only Alcos make.

vlcsnap-2019-10-21-11h05m33s952A General Electric U-25-C, is still operating in 1989! Note the single piece windshield.

vlcsnap-2019-10-21-11h38m50s852Alligators are ex:Santa Fe. Alco RSD15.

Alcos have some personality. Some can really smoke it up. They have those sounds, that only Alcos make.

vlcsnap-2019-10-21-10h51m23s948A little variety of diesels on LS&I. Paint schemes, as well. A roster review is with footage at the LS&I yard.

vlcsnap-2019-10-21-11h15m17s056A lone Alco RS3 works a Kimberly Clark plant. Munising, Michigan, this is disconnected from the LS&I proper.

vlcsnap-2019-10-21-11h09m46s402Check the brake shoes smoke, from the ore Jennies!

vlcsnap-2019-10-21-11h33m54s846Ride to the dock. View from the cab of an RSD15.

vlcsnap-2019-10-21-11h51m46s000Several scenes of Chicago and North Western. The C628 units were gone. Various trains are viewed. EMD powered.

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Escanaba and Lake Superior. They saw little that was operating. Shop visit reveals more  power,although it is parked. A Baldwin, with an Electromotive SD9 are seen here.

vlcsnap-2019-10-21-12h15m06s787Following the 1989 show. Modern LS&I footage returns. The former Burlington Northern GE U30Cs, are also LS&I locomotives.

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The big General Electric locomotives are the current workhorses.

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Michigan Ore was made for The Iron Mining Industry of Minnesota. Typical, mid- century: People, Industry and Government,all work together. It does have educational value. Taconite manufacturing is explained in detail. Little railroading, This Great Northern scene is sweet!

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Michigan Ore Lines- Wide Screen update. Seperate, Bonus Film. This is 2017-2019 video. The two bumpers are combined.

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Pentrex has a complete package here. Deftly combining modern, and vintage LS&I, into a satisfying show. Additional CNW and E&LS,within the old video, gives us further great material.

The Wide Screen Update. Playable as a separate film. This is a smart offering. The same basic, operation.  Modern production standards. In a compact length., Perhaps a solution, to the tastes of younger viewers.

Throw in the vintage Ore movie short. Informative, if dated by it’s era.

This is a well thought-out, new release. Pentrex wanted perfection. They have the most complete program, on Michigan Ore Lines. The top release on this subject.

Rating: 5 Stars

 

Alcos, Iron Ore and More!

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Producer: Marc S. Balkin

Timeframe: 1985

Locations: Escanaba, Green Bay, Marquette, more…

Length: 1 hour

Source: Marc Balkin

Join Jim Boyd on a three day tour. Editor of Railfan & Railroad Magazine. He travels with Marc Balkin of Mark 1 Video.  They videotape this show in July, 1985.

They set out to record the still operating Chicago and North Western Alco Century 628 locomotives. Lake Superior and Escanaba, Baldwin in Great Northern colors. Lake Superior and Ishpeming operations. A bit more.

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-15h10m43s348Jim Boyd is an enthusiastic narrator! The script is a little on the sparse side. Time left to hear the locomotives operate. Enough information is provided. 6702 gets a great pacing sequence!

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-15h58m25s666Chicago and North Western. Lake Superior and Ishpeming, are the main railroads featured. Along with Escanaba and Lake Superior. No Chapter Menu. A single DVD-R. Sturdy hardshell plastic case.

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-15h13m06s175Escanaba Yard, has CNW C628, in old and new paint schemes.

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-15h15m32s829The Century engines are nearly worth the price of admission. But wait, there’s more…

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-15h33m23s598Image quality is an obvious video source. Minor tape flaws appear all during the show. It is like watching an old video. Has a constant horizontal  distortion bar along bottom of the screen. Color balance is fine. Sound levels are good. Narrative and live sound. Assorted maps. On-screen graphics with additional information.

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-15h26m30s618On Escanaba & Lake Superior. A clean Baldwin RS12, in Great Northern colors! All the rage it was in 1985. It is great to hear the odd sounding Baldwin operate, as paced.

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-15h20m44s844The pacing sequences are all shot smoothly. This Baldwin pulls a short cut. There are steady pacing shots throughout the show.

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-15h37m01s278A trio of red LS&I units. Included their only running General Electric U25C.

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-15h54m14s622Lake, Superior & Ishpeming. The various jobs are described concisely. Yet, detailed enough for viewers. Dock Job shown here.

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-15h33m39s745Good views of the loading of an ore boat. Camera work is rock solid.

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-15h42m27s842C&NW trains are interjected, from time to time.

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-15h44m28s838Excellent details on heritage of the various LS&I units shown. RSD12s from C&O, for example.

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-15h45m14s710Former Santa Fe ‘Alligator’ Alco RSD15, wait for a crew. Eagle Mills Yard.

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-16h01m26s503Appleton Yard,  former New York Central, Alco RS32 locomotives. Now working for Chicago and North Western.

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-16h13m49s650The Green Bay and Western gets a single train. Street chase at Green Bay, Wisconsin. Yes, this Engineer hollers at  careless driver! No, you can’t hear him. 

vlcsnap-2019-10-06-16h00m06s201Not a caboose to be found in this show. Let’s begin to  close, with this shot of our lively host. Nice work, Jim and Marc!

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Alcos, Iron Ore and More! The Diesels of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Delivers on the promised locomotives. Good visual and audio presentation. Video flaws are too much for ignoring. Very good show, with the hard to find power in service, on the Upper Peninsula and Green Bay area.

Rating: 4 Stars