Conrail Hot Spots West

Conrail West Cover.indd

Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1996

Locations: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio

Length: 2 hours

Source: Pentrex

Hotspots are where high concentrations of trains can be viewed. Sometimes, a busy section of a mainline.

They are often, trackage crossings. Multiplying opportunities to see trains. Intersecting lines that offer increased variety.

It doesn’t take a mathematician, to realize the benefits for railfans at such locations!

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This show covers: Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Eighteen hotspots are visited.

All the screenshots are not exactly matched to the review progression. The realities of a coherent article and illustrative flow.

Pentrex in house productions maintain high standards of excellence. Everything done correctly. One of the few reliable producers. Frequently, a matter of the subject chosen. Quality is usually a given.

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The unburned fuel is putting on an awesome display, on this General Electric unit!

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Maps are in an abundant supply! Notice, how this enables a smooth flow to the procedings.

A professionally written script. Again, works to keep the program casually rolling along. Balanced with ambient sounds.

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David Drui is the ever present narrator. Broadcast grade announcer. On many of their older releases. That guy!

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Ashtabula, Ohio is the jumping off point. Notice there are additional tracks to provide access to the opposing rails. Just the beginning…

ATVR Bonus..Who pays for the Crossing trackage installation? A. Original Railroad. B. Newer Railroad.

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Answer. B. The newer line is responsible.

The northern Conrail line is featured first. Running compass, East to West. Let’s look at some on the Chicago line first.

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Toledo has a Vickers hot spot. Conrail has plenty of action here. CSX is a main crossover partner. Union Pacific, Chicago & North Western, Grand Trunk with CN and CV units all pass through.

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Indiana has Elkhart, with a CR freight yard. Jake’s Restaurant for railfans. A New York Central museum. Complete with a steam engine on display.

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South Bend offers up freight trains. Transporting cargo or empties, to the massive Chicago classification yards. Clearing Yard and Proviso Yard, for example.

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The above Chicago & North Western SD 40-2,Operation Lifesaver diesel, is doing that task. On it’s path to Proviso Yard, with a mixed freight.

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Hammond is the end of the Chicago line, for this hot spot West tour. Heavy traffic, as one would expect, just outside of Chicago.

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Pentrex has on screen designations for many of the trains. Narrator does explain the fairly simple codes. After a time, most viewers will be able to decipher many Conrail codes.

Amtrak shown, just for variety.

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Southern Conrail line next, for the remainder of the long program.

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Our eastbound return begins at St Elmo, Illinois. Conclusion will be in Alliance, Ohio. Many hot spots visited on the sojourn.

vlcsnap-2019-02-12-15h44m02s092Pentrex fact. An EMD wide cab is no wider than a standard cab. It is the nose!

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Effingham, features Illinois Central at the crossing. A well known spot for years. Nice passenger station there. active Amtrak stop, as well. The Illini is the Amtrak train.

This Union Pacific led train is actually another Conrail move. Looks can be deceiving in this modern era. One almost needs a scorecard to keep on top of the action. Pentrex takes care of it in this show.

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Haley Tower at Terre Haute, IN. An old railroad town. The towerman was busy this morning. Plenty of Conrail and CSX trains.

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Marion still must be the grandaddy of the Ohio hot spots! CSX and Norfolk Southern are still active here. The original tower and station, are still here. Yes, this place still has it going on. Although the tower is no longer in service.

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Quadruple diamonds. Action all the time. What’s not to like at Marion?

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Alliance, OH. is the final spot. Cleveland and Ft. Wayne lines are there.

Eighteen hot spots in this program. Pentrex had their favorite West. My pick would be Marion, Ohio. Although Elkhart ran a close second! What is your favorite Conrail West hot spot?

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Conrail Hot Spots West. End to end, trains filled by, big blue and more. A great Pentrex show. This is one of those, that you will be replaying.

A fun one with: assorted locales, views and of course, the many trains. Conrail Quality.

Rating: 5 Stars

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The Panhandle Volume One : C&N Division- Penn Central- Conrail- B&O

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Producer: Clear Block

Locations: Columbus, Newark, Ohio

Timeframe: 1970’s- 1991

Length: 60 Minutes

Sources: Paul Geiger, Bob Sherwood

Penn Central and Conrail, are the main railroads featured here. Baltimore and Ohio is also a joint trackage railroad operator, for 35 miles.

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The Panhandle, was an old nickname for what much later, was to become Penn Central territory. Between Pittsburgh, Columbus, St. Louis and Chicago.

This show covers the portion from Columbus to Newark. In depth historical information, is given via the narrative. Later series, Panhandle Volumes cover additional portions, of the involved routes.

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An older show in the Clear Block catalog. Dates back to the VHS tape era of commercial release. Unrestored and definitely showing it’s age.

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Film quality is fair overall. Plenty of scenes need color correction. Here again, a distortion bar!! This show has it at the bottom of the screen. Some Clear Block shows include these distortions.

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Although Penn Central paint dominates the program. Early Conrail patch jobs appear. As do, these former Erie Lackawanna SD45 units.

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Viewers are watching silent films, with narration and musical background. Only a 1991 update offers any live train sound. Not a badly put together show. It does have it’s share of serious flaws.

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Primitive maps, by more modern standards. Better to have, these simple maps versus nothing. They do the job.

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Bob Sherwood does the busy narration. Descriptive of nearly every scene. That encompasses a very large quantity of rather brief scenes!

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Amtrak takes a significant chunk of time. Centered around the Columbus Union Terminal. The old one is closed. This runs past it’s welcome. Feels like filler. Watching Amtrak trains back into and around the station area. Yawn…

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At this time, demolition is near or in progress, for many structures. This would be the rarity of the program.

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Some limited cab ride sequences appear. They are quick glimpses.

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Paul Geiger was a Towerman on the Penn Central. Some of those unique viewpoints are seen in this show. Tower views, yard access and wreck scene. Likely, including the locomotive cabs for those views.

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The Mail Train. In various incarnations. America’s mail once moved mostly by rail. Remember Air Mail?

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Majority of the program is trackside filmed action. ATVR tidbit… Southern Pacific units were run through power.

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B&O, C&O diesels provide additional variety. Trackage rights territory.

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Sharp eyes will observe the obvious Baltimore and Ohio architecture.

Interesting to note. Baltimore and Ohio lineside structures. Pennsylvania signals. A unique combination reflecting the dual operation of The Panhandle. See the narrative.

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A 1991 update brings the program to a close. Further demolition of the once dominant rail system is shown. Downsized to single track and double track operation. Removed yard. An interesting, if unwanted conclusion.

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This early works from Clear Block is very outdated now. It is badly in need of a remaster. As the featured railroads are available in much better quality elsewhere. It would really only be for hardcore railfans or completists.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars

Railfanning With The Bednars Volume 5

Railfanning With The Bednars Volume 5

downloadfile

 

John Pechulis Media

Years: 1973- 1976

Locations: Allentown, Sayre, Lehigh Gap and more… Pennsylvania and perhaps elsewhere?

Source: Bednar collection

Length: 58 minutes

Here is one of the John Pechulis series of Bednar filmed, Eastern Anthracite Railroads. This volume 5 covers much more, then the 10 months preceding the formation of Conrail. Footage dates back to 1973! Locations jump around in a timeline  format.

Sounds like this was from Mike Bednar father’s collection. Found after the previous volumes were released. Not having seen any of the previous shows. I do not know if any of this film is Mike’s, or how everything fits together.

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Majority of cameras were focused on the larger railroads of this era. Quality footage is harder to find, of Lehigh Valley and Reading Railroad. We are quite fortunate, the Bednar films are available.

There are not any maps to follow. No chapters either. A formal organization is not apparent. The show does play better than it appears, organizationazionally speaking.

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Mike Bednar was an experienced railroad professional. He worked as a Towerman for years. He knew operations cold. Names nearly everyone who appears on film. Knows the designations of the trains. Locations are usually offered. Often, the contents of freight cars are known! This adds quite a bit of interest.

I would have liked to have had some in program,reference maps. Where the heck is Sayre? Lehigh Gap? Bloom?

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Strange places. Geographical orientation would have been desirable.

Model Railroaders will love the attention paid to freight cars! Plenty of yard scenes like this one. Freight consists with road trains are viewed. Valuable information of period weathering, as well.

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Reading GP30. In case you don’t know. Mike doesn’t do the locomotive call-outs often. Yes, he seems to know them all. At times, he will spit them out. Usually, too busy telling a story or giving an explanation or an opinion!

Film quality is excellent! John Pechulis goes through some detailed restoration process, from what I understand. The results are outstanding!

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The high resolution is the high point of this production. Very clean looking film. Accurate colors. Nicely done. Bi-Centenntial paint was seemingly everywhere if you were alive in 1976!

Sound is dominated by Mike Bednar’s very detailed narrative. Expert level commentary.

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Occassional humorous comments. Depth of knowledge is fascinating. He spent his life on the railroad. Very apparent when you listen to him speak.

There are natural sound scenes. Other scenes have musical background. Everything is balanced to acceptable levels. Narration is the dominant form.

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There  is a large variety of motive power to be viewed in Volume 5. Lehigh Valley is the main feature. Reading has plenty to be seen. Delaware and Hudson, also puts in a strong showing. Very colorful era!

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Not to be forgotten. Erie Lackawanna.Bednar travelled to record EL F-units operating at Bloom. Wherever the heck that place is located!  in this program. Additional EL power is present. SD power history was controversial on this Bloom line. GP35 locos are seen elsewhere on a freight.

Lesser amounts seen are Jersey Central. A few cameos by others. B&O and some steam power.

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By this late date. Deferred maintenance has become a serious problem. Bad derailments have.caused some major wrecks! A few are on this show.

Large cranes are shown operating. This demonstrates the type of access that the Bednar’s enjoyed. They were able to get close to the action.

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Hulcher equipment is likely rare footage. Mike believes it was the intial usage of them, on a wreck, on Lehigh Valley. Interesting, this show contains the old steam era cranes and the modern Hulcher style of wreck removal eqiupment. Mike was a proud professional. These men were upset to see their once excellent roads deteriorate.

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A wide variety of motive power is on tap. Alco Century locomotives are operating on the Lehigh Valley plus the Delaware and Hudson. General Electric is making obvious inroads. EMD is easily found amoung all the railroads. All in all. This is a great looking collection of the Bednar films.

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Cinematography is excellent overall. Nice, camerawork. Colors look great! Everything is well-balanced. A top notch appearing DVD.

Narrative is informative and interesting. Once you become used to Bednars voice. Well, it is authentic. I do find him entertaining!

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Certain items that are not present. Maps and chapter selection, are what keeps this show, from the excellent rating .There is the difference between say a Charles Smiley Presents and this John Pechulis. No favoritism. Both productions can look outstanding. Both can be informative. It is those extras that are or are not included.

Very Good. A worthwhile look at some action in the 1970s NorthEast Railroads.

A strong and enjoyable show.

Rating: 4 Stars

 

 

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.

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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

The Hard Coal Roads: what went wrong

The Hard Coal Roads: what went wrongD143

Charles Smiley Presents

Format: Factory Pressed DVD

Length: 1 hour 40 minutes + 20 minutes previews

Time Period: 1970- 1976

Sources: Joseph Zook, Jack Kuiphoff, Will Whittaker.

MSRP: 28.50

Charles has the Eastern hard coal roads featured in the pre-Conrail era. This new program, contains a cornucopia of rare, and unreleased film. Featured railroads: Lehigh Valley, Reading, Jersey Central, Erie Lackawanna, Delaware and Hudson, plus Penn Central. There are also some connecting lines. Railfans will see an action packed show!

rs3Central Railroad of New Jersey. Red Baron paint scheme on an Alco RS3.

Much of the film has hard to find footage, in high quality. This collection surpasses anything that I have seen for the first three railroads. Face the facts, LV, RDG and CNJ are usually available in grainy, unrestored issues. They didn’t capture the attention of railfan cinematographers very much.

1919Riding a hard coal train in the year………….. 1919.

Hard coal… anyone?.. The answer is Anthracite coal… What went wrong?…Why are there nearly zero coal trains in this program?…. How does this lead into Conrail?….. Watch this show.

rdg5209Reading Lines had a unique, cab roof rain gutter over the cab windows. Number 5209 is a Century 424. It leans into a superelevated curve.

dh610Alco Centuries were part of the D&H Alco heavy roster. The lightning stripe livery, is a true classic. Number 610 is a C628. At 2750 horsepower, it was a powerful locomotive. One of three that still exist. This one survives at a museum in Mexico.

lv635Lehigh Valley C-628 in the stunning Snowbird scheme.

Alcophiles will love all of that builders diesels in use by these railroads. Plenty of Electromotive too.

pc tansboroCharles is also a talented model railroader. He has an eye for including scenes that are conducive to the hobby. Note all of the details in this scene. Structure, signals, rural crossing etc..

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All six railroads benefit from Mr. Smiley’s extensive digital restoration. The colors are accurate. Images and the trains seem to jump off the screen.

cnjrsd5Jersey Central with a pair of Alco RSD-5 locomotives. Passenger trains are sometimes operating with leased power. Some unrepainted, second hand cars are surprising.

The audio levels are well balanced. The narrative and train sounds have even levels. There are various musical pieces interpolated throughout the show.

dh trackageAlways improving his products, check the updated maps. D&H with trackage rights.

bmAll CSP shows have nice surprises. A railroad that is hard to find, Boston & Maine.

elErie Lackawanna receives extensive coverage. All have their historical background described. Viewers will have an understanding of the regional big picture.

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A meticulous producer. Location awareness is always a priority. Using: narration, text graphics and a fabulous array of maps to enhance the story.

pc4603 e33Penn Central electric operations are one facet of the vast railroad.

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A 20 minute preview section is included. Total time is 2 hours. Man, I like the looks of Northeast Rails. Conrail fans will find plenty in these previews.

lv neThe USRA Northeast caboose is all over the show! Visible on different roads, in assorted liveries. Watch for these gems.

The Hard Coal Roads: what went wrong. I have watched the program and heard the history. Any railfan or model railroader should find this an enjoyable sojourn on these fallen flags. Extremely interesting and has the rarity factor. In short, this exemplary show is a must have!

Rating: 5 Stars

#Railroad#Train#LehighValley#Reading#JerseyCentral#ErieLackawanna#DelawareAnd Hudson#AmericanTrainVideoReviews