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’.


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.

csxcsx 2531

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.

ns 2595

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.


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.


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.

crcnw 5097

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.

mpup 87

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..


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.

rdg map


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.

el tuxedo

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.


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

Marion AC Volume 2

Marion AC Volume 2cover

Clear Block Productions

Length: 110 minutes

Time Period: 1992- 1996

Location: AC Tower. Marion, Ohio and vicinity

Source: Todd Miller

MSRP: 30.00

This volume presents the Marion area in a simulated 24 hour period. Filmed over a four year timespan. The day and night, seem to pass. There is an endless supply of trains. Conrail, Norfolk Southern and CSX are the operating railroads during this time.

cr6201Different format than the first AC Tower show by Clear Block.  Graphics are the predominant source of information.buin crNarrated only at the introduction to the program. Todd Miller gives knowledgeable info here. The bulk of the show is not narrated. Environmental audio. On screen graphics contain detailed train designation and heading. Map references at the introduction only. Too bad there isn’t scanner (radio) talk. That one element would have made this one much better.

ns2744aWhat viewers will experience are endless train runbys. Appearing from assorted viewpoints and varied locations. Majority are directly within site of AC Tower. Conrail and NS are the stars of the show. A handful of additional scenes within the vicinity of Marion.

csx4238                             Nice CSX action, is shot from the old C&O station.

csx6549Many years ago….. Marion was packed with classic signal equipment, such as this.

du                                      Todd gets some fine shots with his video camera.

During the 1990’s railroading was far into standardization. A generally, bland collection of EMD and GE power pulling the usual assortment of large freight cars and little else. Cabooses were gone by now. An occasional special can be found, even Milwaukee 261.

cre8a                                   Conrail business cars rollby with an E8A unit.

ns21AC Tower provides some great views of Norfolk Southern and Conrail traffic.

csx6547CSX is nearly the odd man out in this show. Distant views with a handful of nicer scenes.

cr3335                                       Conrail Extra 3335 passes the old depot.

cr6201xIt is a long night. Some discussion would have been welcome. Trains disappear into the darkness.

cr8161Marion AC Volume 2 is a decent effort by Clear Block. The production is good overall. Would have rated higher with more narrative, or radio traffic for the soundtrack. If you want to know….. AC Tower Volume One is the one to get …. AC Vol.2 is a good add, if you like Vol.1.

After watching this long player, you may realize. The silence of the human voice is deafening.

Rating: 3 Stars