Railfanning With The Bednars Volume 5

Railfanning With The Bednars Volume 5

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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

 

 

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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.

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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

Conrail Winter

Conrail WinterConrail Winter

Green Frog Productions

Length: 69 minutes

Time Period: 1999

Locations: Detroit to Chicago line, Detroit to Toledo line.

Source: Rich Scheid

MSRP: 29.95

Conrail action in the winter of 1999. Many locations in Michigan and Ohio. A wide assortment of CR power. Many train types. Amtrak makes numerous appearances. Good variety of pool and run through locomotives. You never know what train is coming next.

whitefaceGreen Frog Productions are one of the industry standards. This show is a record of the last winter of Conrail, as recorded by Rich Scheid. He displays good camera skills. The lone issue is the setup is often at the grade crossing. Too much bell ringing for many scenes. Some of this can be forgiven. After all, it is winter and sometimes there is alot of snow. Green Frog limits some of the ding- ding, so it could have been worse.

2aNarrative is straightforward and clearly delivered. Script is operation oriented. Numerous descriptions of: train designations, locations, train types, origin/ destination and more. The high level of detail keeps a viewers attention. One can benefit with a better understanding of the railroad movements. Excellent work.

det jct ydConrail cab ride travels into Detroit Junction Yard. Note the coaling tower just ahead.

tv22 maumee                               TV-22 crosses the frozen Maumee River in Ohio.

stto 5636 An EMD SD60i (misidentified as an SD70i) trundles along a city street in Monroe.

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The story begins just before a major snowstorm was due to hit the area. Problems caused by the severe winter storm and some of the solutions are discussed as the show progresses. Timeline continues until the season’s weather begins to subside. No maps are provided.

train blizzardA familiar sight to anyone who has experienced cold climate railroading. The speeding train seems to generate it’s own blizzard as it rolls by.

wolverine aaAmtrak Wolverine passes the former station at Ann Arbor. Superliners were used in place of the single level cars, which were frozen.

wauseonThe Lake Shore Limited with a long and varied consist at Wauseon, Ohio. The old New York Central depot has a caboose on display. Express cars, eight RoadRailers and a second locomotive on this one!

wyandottte gt detourInclement weather can result in detours. Grand Trunk is doing that very thing, at Wyandotte.

sttoLook closely. A crewman will have to dig the snow out with his hands. Snow has clogged the points of this turnout. The Toledo bound ST-TO, also has trouble with some frozen brake equipment on the switching here. All in a day’s work on Conrail.

Conrail Winter is both enjoyable and informative. Probably, best enjoyed with a hot beverage. You will feel the chill in the air. This show should appeal to most anyone- railfan or not.

Rating: 4 Stars

Blue Twilight

Blue Twilightblue_twilight

Revelation Video

Length: 63 minutes

Time Period: 1976- 1999

Locations: Horseshoe Curve, Conway Yard, Berea, and more

Sources: Ronald McElrath,  Rick Varga, Vaughn Neel

Conrail is covered from inception to past it’s conclusion. Assorted old film and videotape are assembled into a hodgepodge mixture; of locations and operations. Mainly, the action is in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Horseshoe Curve is a regular hotspot, with visits which begin in 1976 on this release.

1Similar to previous Revelation Video shows, they bounce around numerous snippets. Quality can range from murky to clear. Composition also differs. Often, there are shots that are just too close of a passing train. Others are too distant. Yet, some are fine. Viewers will be on a detailed yard visit, and instantly transported aboard a passenger train. Bright summer turns to winter, and back again. Old newspaper clippings and nearly unreadable maps appear at times. You never know what is next. Most of it is interesting, if not pretty.

crA visit to Conway Yard is one of the first orders of business. Tower, hump and action.

cw                                      Black and Blue enter Conway Yard.

Random elements are part of the experience of this show.  Ron McElrath narrates his own shows. The man is knowledgeable about railroads. Overall, the presentation wanders around Ohio and returns to Horseshoe area. He does convey good background and steadies the boat with specifics.

rs3mAlco RS3m in the early 1980’s. This video period doesn’t look good on this show.

Quantity rules over quality, as far as source footage. Viewers will see a plethora of scenes. The sheer volume of scenes will include some rarities. Locations and years are always noted by narration. Audio tends to be live sound on video. Old 8mm film will have vinyl sourced musical background.

rdggp35Reading GP35 pair with 2 Conrail GE units in 1976. Location is Horseshoe Curve, PA. Dismal quality film collection from 1976. Penn Central, Erie Lackawanna, Lehigh Valley locomotives are all found here. There isn’t a big supply of ’76 or early ’80’s included.

berea1Berea, Ohio is a prominent hotspot in this show. There is a wide variety of run through power. Most of the larger railroads can be found. Union Pacific, BNSF, CNW and Illinois Central are some. Amtrak also appears. The later footage is the best of this program.hudsonoh.lastone                                 Hudson, Ohio. The last train there, on the final day of Conrail.

nssThe show generally follows the timeline. Norfolk Southern becoming ever more predominant.

conwayBlue Twilight is an interesting, if somewhat rough around the edges show. This is in the realm of amateur train videos. Appears to be a direct VHS tape transfer. There are Conrail shows with much higher quality out there. Experienced railfans who seek additional Conrail in their collections should find this an adequate, though not essential program.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars