The Pennsy- and More!

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Producer: Steve Branfields

Timeframe: 1930s- 1960s

Locations: Pennsylvania- Ohio

Length: 47 minutes

Sources: Blackhawk, Bill Radcliff, Andy Schools

A&R Productions with a 30 year span of film. Pennsylvania Railroad. Bessemer and Lake Erie, which constitutes- the more!

Great collection of: Steam, Diesel and Electric locomotives. The all encompassing program, contains many examples of the vast Pennsy roster.

Each locomotive has a historical review, with the visual presented. Effective and compact method, to deal with a huge roster.

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Dubbed audio. I cannot comment on the accuracy of every engine. The presentation works for me.

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Almost a chapter menu. A show selector. Choice of: Pennsy or B&LE.

GG-1 electrics, along with it’s earlier class.

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No maps or any visual references. This one moves around the state of Pennsylvania. Ends up in Ohio. Some maps would have been welcomed. Held this show back from an even higher rating.

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EMD E units in Tucsan Red paint.

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House annoucer Ted Daluku performs his usual, professional narrative. An equally, pro written script, makes this one of those traditional, good shows. A&R does it this time out!

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A variety of film sources, lead to the variable qualities seen. Majority is good  to very good. A few down to fair, in earliest scenes. The 1930s, so it improves along with the timeline.

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Black and white at the beginning. Movement towards color film usage, as time marches on.

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Obvious preponderance of color in the later years. Quality remains variable. Check that GP30, with the Pennsy trainphone antenna!

The one constant is a horizontal distortion bar along the bottom of the screen. Look at the screenshots.

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Pennsylvania was a true innovator. Their duplex steam designs had mixed results. Nobody would argue the aesthics were unique!

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Pennsy steamers looked… The Business!

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High steppin’ T-1 power. Fast, powerful and slippery. Pulled early from service.

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Steam era to later years…

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Horseshoe Curve. The classic hotspot, in any era!

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New fangled diesels, proved worthy over the tough Allegheny grades.

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TrucTrain was the PRR answer to early intermodal service. Yes, you will see some piggyback train consists.

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Passenger trains were often heavy on mail cars. These were often the revenue makers. Before the US Mail contracts were discontinued. Check that Alco PA!

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Cabin cars, as a caboose was termed. Those funny looking Trainphone attenana were essential for mountainous communications. They were singular to Pennsylvania.

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Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad. Now, that is a line that you don’t often see on a train video! A bonus feature that fits perfectly!

Geographically and in chronological fashion. Heavy coal hauler, that had limited passenger service.

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Pennsy – and More! The Standard Railroad of the World.

A daunting task to cover this railroad. Sheer volume of the locomotive roster. Multiply by 30 years. Again three eras. Steam. Steam to Diesel. Diesel. Do not forget Electrics.

A&R really did an excellent job here! Well organized. Decent soundtrack. Fine film collection. Good narration. All in a program that is suitable for the entire family.

As diverse as Pennsylvania Railroad actually was in equipment. Besides the daily challenge of operating over mountainous territory. A microcosm of United States railroad history, is present within this program.

A solid out of the box experience, from the house at A&R Productions. Comprehensive and succinct!

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

 

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Wire, Wings and Warriors – The Milwaukee Electrics

Wire, Wings and Warriors cover

A&R Productions

Length: 31 minutes

Time Period: around 1915- 1960’s

Locations: Avery, GE Factory, Harlowton, Pipestone Pass and much more..

Source: The Blackhawk Film Collection

MSRP: 30.00

Milwaukee Road electrified operations are the main feature in this show. Little Joe and early Boxcabs are the locomotives that get the trains over the mountains. Normal diesels are included, as the electrics were added to the road freights. The Olympian Hiawatha is seen as a separate entry, later in the program.

joeA&R Productions has a solid script, which is very descriptive. Ted Daluku is the familiar narrator. The Milwaukee Road Historical Society was involved in this presentation. Train sounds are heard in the background. Everything is well organized.

olympian hiawathaThe Blackhawk film collection used, is all black and white. Fine for the really old material. However, some of the Little Joe engines are operating much later. Also, the cinematography within is very good overall. The films are clean. Realize, this is 100% black and white.

1919 wh quill                           A 1919 Westinghouse Quill. A bipolar is in the show too.

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Ride an EP-1 boxcab on the Rocky Mountain Division. Early era, when they were painted black!

mapLocations are referenced throughout. A handful of basic maps are helpful. Both the Rocky Mountain and Coast Divisions are covered.

ge erie                                        Visit the General Electric plant at Erie. See Boxcabs.

Avery                                                              Avery Yard

skytopWire, Wings and Warriors. The black and white film era was over in the 1950’s. However, The Olympian Hiawatha and earlier footage is fine with b&w. The detailed narrative is the strong point here. Milwaukee Road fans should be satisfied.

The sum total is the show is pretty good. If you can overlook the b&w factor on the Little Joes, an informative 30 minutes are viewed. Smooth and full of action, a fast half hour.

Rating: 3 Stars

The Hard Coal Roads: what went wrong

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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

Lackawanna Legacy: The DL&W Electrics

Lackawanna Legacy: The DL&W Electricscve

Mark 1 Video

Length: One hour

Time Period: July- August 1984

Lcations: Hoboken, Dover, Gladstone, Montclair

Sources: 1984 color footage

MSRP: 30.00

Mark 1 has a comprehensive show about DL&W interurban service in 1984.  Three lines in New Jersey are featured. Old electric mu’s, which were original Lackawanna equipment. Delaware, Lackawanna & Western was the original ailroad name. Merged with Erie Railroad in 1960. Erie Lackawanna was the result.

The last 2 months of Edison Era electrics are on color film. Many, vintage black and white photographs. History is interspersed within the program.

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Nicknamed as Wickerliners. Anyone who has ridden in one of these ancient coaches will identify with the name.

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Jim Boyd of Railfan Magazine, is our narrator. Good narrative. The service to Dover and Gladstone will originate from Hoboken. There is historical background which sets up our 1984 visit to the lines. Maps are often referenced along the way.  On screen graphics are frequently used to show exact locations.

Audio is a mixture of: train sounds, musical backgrounds, and narration. The soundtrack is balanced among those elements. You may hear the train over the music, as well. Interurban programs can be difficult to have accurate sounds. Attention to detail has brought the nice results.

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Lackawanna’s right of way is a study in contrasts. Stations are sometimes, squeezed into the surrounding landscape. Further away from the metropolis, there is space and more greenery.

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Diesels share the rails with the venerable electrics.

newark                                                                     Newark.

gladst                                                                  Gladstone.

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August 24, 1984 was the final run to Gladstone. Train 629 to Dover was the last train of the old electric service multiple units. NJ Transit reopened with a 25,000 volt modern system.

mpA brief segment with the new trains follows to close the show.

Lackawanna Legacy: The DL&W Electrics is an engaging look at that service. A well done program that pays tribute to the old Multiple unit electrics. Great for the railfan.

Rating: 4 Stars

Milwaukee Road West

Charles Smiley Presents Milwaukee Road West

Charles Smiley Presents

Format: DVD (factory pressed disc)

Length: 67 minutes + previews

Time Period: 1955-1978

Locations: Chicago to Seattle, Avery, Milwaukee, Missoula, Three Forks, Deer Lodge…

Sources: George Barnes, Bob Finan, John Pertos, Bo Golson, Gino Pagliaro

MSRP: 28.50

The Long Road to Extinction is the aptly named subtitle. Milwaukee Road’s last quarter century is examined, as only Charles Smiley Presents can do. An extremely high level of detail provides viewers a knowledge base of Milwaukee Road. Friends and rivals, are an important element to put the railroad in perspective. Plenty of color film from the additional lines will assist the narrative.

We begin in 1955. Steam and early diesels are the power. An intriguing look at different styles of tailcars around the passenger yard at Milwaukee.

Sourced from 8mm and Super 8 color films. Quality is good to excellent. While not always pristine images, they are interesting scenes. All the cameramen have good composition. Digital enhancements have those vintage scenes appearing as best as possible.

A number of scenes are from circa 1955. Chicago is a colorful showcase of railroads!

Check the dual pantographs raised near Butte, Montana. See Milwaukee Scrapbook by Charles Smiley for much more coverage, of the electrified territory.

Outstanding and accurate! Live audio is custom matched, to the various locomotive models. Multiple sources were listed for the sounds. Painstaking attention to detail.

Unparalleled, custom made maps, are one of the nice extras that are contained in all CSP shows. These are labor intensive, handcrafted illustrations. Referenced at key points throughout the presentation. Also, there is an extended preview section containing more titles of: mainline, electrics and trolley/ interurbans.

This 1917 built substation, at Avery is about to receive visitors. They will see the interior and hear the turbines startup. Who are the visitors going to be ????…….. all of us !

A PBS style of production, many facets of the railroad are revealed. Judicious use of: still photographs, memorabilia and fitting music, are combined to augment the program. Natural train sounds and  the electric power substation are memorable.

Narration by Charles Smiley is engaging and very informative. He is just as interested in the subjects as the viewers. This area is critical and sometimes overlooked by others. Poor narratives can detract from a good show. Charles always has amazing discussions.

Milwaukee’s famed electrified portions of the Pacific Extension are a major subject. Little Joes are a centerpiece. Fascinating segment of operation at an old roundhouse.

Eastbound Hiawatha engaged in a stub end station move. Note the beavertail observation.

This show has a large share of the other railroads, that operated in the same territories. Some of this footage overlaps with his releases. Each individual story does get elevated by inclusion of the films. If Great Northern or Burlington Route is discussed, let’s see it!

Cabooses are seen on many of the freights. A large supply in assorted roads. Fantastic. Wooden, Steel, Composite, Cupola, Bay Window, Wide Vision, Transfer. Collect them all!

Rock Island is notable with a chapter of this movie. A sweet assortment of early to mid 1970’s footage. Some decrepit diesels and trackwork are familiar reminders of 70’s era Rock Island. Alco, GE and EMD locomotives, are all here.

Monon Alcos are one of the rare inclusions. Butte, Anaconda & Pacific is another. All of the Hill Lines are included. Burlington Northern, Chicago Northwestern, and Union Pacific too. Indiana Harbor Belt even gets into the act! Louisville and Nashville. Montana Rail Link makes an appearance. Even more lines, in a plethora of paint schemes.

Milwaukee Road West has a wide ranging collection of vintage films. Easily could be subtitled, Railroads to The Pacific Northwest and more. The comprehensive show is a cornucopia of; some legendary and little known railroads. A ‘must have’ for Milwaukee Road fans. Rock Island and Electric aficionados take note, you are missing out.

Railfans and Model Railroaders will find this show to be enjoyable. It also serves as a fine reference resource. A definite, deluxe presentation that people can revisit with satisfaction.

Rating: 5 Stars