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.

1522

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

A Quarter Century of Steam

A Quarter Century of Steam25

Diverging Clear Productions

Length: 4 1/2 Hours

Time Period: 1985-2010

Locations: Midwest, East, and more..

Sources: Jensen, McPherson, Redmond, Tom and Kyle Dunn

Producer: Mary McPherson

MSRP: 30.00

Where can you find 65 steam locomotives in a train video? Diverging Clear has just released a pair of DVD’s that are packed with over 4 hours of steam action. Many locomotives are found here. The usual suspects are ever present. Railfans already can guess those examples that were running during those years. Union Pacific, Nickel Plate, Norfolk & Western are the major ones. Frisco, Southern Pacific, Pere Marquette, and Southern are some others.

sr 4501Southern 4501

A small sampling of what you will see in this show . There is much more. Many locomotives no longer are in service. There is plenty of fine cinematography. Kids will love this one.

3985 Union Pacific 3985.

ssw 819bCotton Belt 819

There are rarities to be enjoyed. Viewers will see operating steam power that is no longer in service. Re-lettered locomotives such as former Canadian railroads round out the selection. Special excursions and train museums, are where the trains operate.

black hillsBlack Hills Central encounters a mother deer and doe.

A variety of sizes and classes are here. Diminutive narrow gauge. Large Northerns from UP and Milwaukee Road. Passenger power. Consolidations, Mikados and Shays. Strange looking Chinese steam, on US rails. Articulated, with UP, N&W. Saddle tanker and even a replica of an early 440 steamer.

slsf 1522Frisco 1522 in a stunning scene. Reminds one of classic Emery Gulash. Some engines, like this one are shown very often. Ditto for UP 844, UP 3985, NW 1218.

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Kurt Jensen does minimal narration. Title screens offer the bulk of information. The program is better when Kurt adds more information.

grand canyonGrand Canyon

The show is arranged in chronological order. As one would expect, the quality increases over the timeline. 1985-2010. Editing is smooth. Sometimes, the lower quality is all there is of a rare scene. In that case, it’s better then nothing.

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East Broad Top.

pm 1225Pere Marquette

soo 1003 2007Soo Line

mil 261This scene with Milwaukee Road 261 recalls the spirit of Lionel trains .

261A Quarter Century of Steam: 25 years. The show does contain many steam engines. It fulfills the advertised content. This reviewer does find the program overstays it’s welcome. There is too much repetition of the same engines. After awhile, the proceedings end up an excessive series of runbys. Seems that an hour or more would have served better. if presented as a separate bonus section.

gtw ocOhio Central has a restored Grand Trunk Western and more.

cn 89 strasburgCanadian National 89 is one of several steam engines seen at Strasburg, Pennsylvania.

There are 2 identities of DCP. There is the ‘new and improved’, with tight editing and sharper scripts. There is also the earlier incarnation. That has endless footage and simple narrative. This show falls into the early style.

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It is geared as a basic ‘Best of DCP Steam’. That all being said, this is worthy for the assortment and the rarities. If those are appealing, jump on it!

Rating: 3 Stars

Southern Railway Historical Society 4PAK Set #2

Southern Railway Historical Society 4PAK Set #2tag

Green Frog Productions

Length: 4.7 hours

Format: 4 disc set

Time Period: 1945- 1981

Sources: Southern Railway, Electromotive, Great Northern, Norfolk & Western, Southern Pacific, US Navy

MSRP:39.95

Assortment collection of  16 vintage films. Sometimes these shorts, feature Southern Railway. Additional films are included. The US Navy has some on diesel motors. One by Electromotive of LaGrange. Great Northern, Norfolk & Western, plus Southern Pacific.

oth 2241They are varied in content. Most are based on railroad subjects. The naval films are a stretch. Southern Railway Historical Society has assembled this collection. Green Frog is the producer. They have transferred the films to 1080HD. Widescreen and 4×3 formats.

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A side benefit to see, are the time periods. Vintage truck fans will find numerous examples. Anyone who has ever been around a freight facility will notice all the handwork and lack of shrinkwrap.

Realize, that a transfer is not a restoration. These films were all professionally produced. They do have some color issues, like any unrestored film stock. The balance can be off or there can be fading.  Lucky for us, the assorted short shows were pro shot on 16mm film.

Audio is clear and that has good balance. Narratives are well written. Acting and some voiceovers, are often not Hollywood.They do convey the information.

joe 2145For the review, a selection of highlighted films will be the focus. Some have a higher interest level, and your mileage may vary.

The United States Navy films, are all black and white. Found these as unnecessary. Who cares about cylinder replacement and the like anyway? It plays like time filler. There is still a healthy amount of railroad material to watch.

This release is spread across a 4 DVD set. It is nicely packaged in a secure clamshell case.

Disc One

cattleSouthern Railway- Opportunity on the Hoof (28 minutes)

Learn the history of the meat industry, down South. Interesting account of the Agri-business . Very little railroad footage. Follow the Agri-Bus and see where they travel.

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Paced to Live (17 minutes)

Great Northern produced, during the Big Sky Blue era. Grade crossing safety. Apparently, Southern was showing this one to it’s own people too.

Coupler Reprocessing (10 minutes)

Southern’s facility is seen in detail. More then you ever need to know, regarding coupler refurbishment.

Traction Motor Flashover (14 minutes)

This looks and feels old. Technical aspects of electrical flashovers. Motor centered. Produced by EMD. No, you do not see the plant, or much else. One Santa Fe passenger train shown at the end. Notable, as this is at nearby McCook Crossing on ATSF.

Sonicar (9 minutes)

Caldwell Westinghouse advertisement for an advanced braking system. They probably turned off buyers by showing all the added equipment.

Disc Two

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Off The Hook (16 minutes)

Family lake outing turns into a discussion of Southern! This shows a selection of modern equipment. Big John hoppers, All Door cars, Big Boy Tobacco Boxcars and Auto Bilevel. Section on the new cushion underframes. See vintage diesels at work. Good show.

pb2pb1Piggy-Back Southern Style (18 minutes)

This shows the plight of a Traffic Manager with company trucks. Enter Southern’s service! Vintage trucks are here. See early 1960’s Southern Containerized Freight Service. Plenty of action. Piggyback and container transloading. One of the best in the set.

Progressive Maintenance of the General Motors 12-567A Diesel Engine (21 minutes + 23 minutes)

US Navy training  films from 1945. EMD12-567 motors for LST units.

Disc Three

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stp2Straight to the Point (23 minutes)

Three hunters discuss freight damage. Plenty of classic freight cars to see. Boxcar interiors, loading facilities, and no palletization. GE refrigerator plant, Aluminum factory. Produced by Southern. Operating Vice President plays Mr. Shipper. A good old show.

Ribbon Rails, Mechanized Handling and Laying (32 minutes)

Never have found anything related to rail captivating.

Progressive Maintenance of the General Motors 12-567A Diesel Engine (16 minutes)

Even more 1945 naval engine maintenance.

Disc Four

rollingSouthern- Rolling South (14 minutes)

Time period is the 1970’s. Train 154 to Atlanta and Port of Savannah. Aerial views of trains. Cab ride sequence. Nice runbys. Rotary coal dump. Linwood hump yard. Tower and office interiors. Excellent time capsule.

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joe baldwins

A Job for Joe (18 minutes)

Army veteran Joe can’t get rehired by Southern. The reason? Too many expensive claims. Great shots of classic Southern. Music by The Almond Hillbillies. This is the one most remembered by the employees. Plenty of train scenes.

nwCoal Carrier to the World (9 minutes)

Norfolk & Western 1981. Appalachian coal, from mine to port. Little is seen of the railroad. It does cover the coal transport to the ship very well..

safety3The safety film has faded on the outdoor footage.

safety2Safety Facts About Crossing Tracks (13 minutes)

SP Safety Department has a better then average cross safely show. Check the Matchbox cars and HO trains. A unique method to demonstrate scenarios around grade crossings.

Scavenging and Supercharging of Diesel Engines (14 minutes)

US Navy 1943 training film. Fairbanks Morse opposed piston engines were desirable for marine applications. Two stroke motors here. All of these mechanical shorts should have occupied a single disc. They do belong together.

This collection is good for those looking for subjects, that are only briefly seen in train videos.

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Some of these films are interesting to watch. Others are one timers. Couldn’t sit through the old black and white engine training films.

Overall, this collection does have some worthwhile short features. Recommended for those shows as mentioned.

Rating: 3 Stars

Chessie & Seaboard Hall of Fame

Chessie & Seaboard Hall of FameCover d142

Charles Smiley Presents

Length: 2 Hours + Previews

Time Period: 1950’s- 1990’s

Locations: Systemwide

Sources: Robert Zook, Jack Kuiphoff, Will Whittaker, Ed Kaspriske, Nelson Rath

MSRP: 29.50

A double feature and loaded with rarities. CSX heritage is thoroughly covered in this latest  release from Charles Smiley Presents. A Hall of Fame series that contains total vintage, all color film. Freight and passenger operations are seen in a wide array of trains.

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Chessie System and predecessor railroads : B&O, C&O and WM. These are the main subjects in the first half of the program. Interurban fans get a treat with a brief visit on Potomac Edison. Circa 1950’s era C&O showcases a Brill car operating in Appalachia.

scl2021_sd45Seaboard System and these components: SCL, L&N, and Family Lines members. There are numerous rarities to be savored within Seaboard. The majority of this collection is hard to find material.

ln4099_waldoLouisville and Nashville 4099 leads a mixed lash-up, with a Seaboard Coast Line unit. This EMD locomotive is a GP-38-2, built in 1972. Plenty of trains travel past the camera at Waldo, Florida in the 1970’s. This show provides more L&N, another tough to find film subject.

RF&P receives an extended chapter. This road is another that has been a scarce video find.

wm3580_3577_nw2910_gp35Western Maryland GP35 units 3580, 3577 and NW 2910 are one of many WM trains.

nw2910_wm_gp35Additional Locomotives from: NW, NS, SOU, PC, SP, EL, Conrail, IC and Monon are included. Norfolk & Western 2910 was the lone GP35 from Nickel Plate Road.

Charles Smiley is a consistent producer who maintains high production standards. He gives much value with every release. Every detail is equally important. All of the many elements that combine to create an enjoyable and informative experience, are smoothly presented.

This show is 100% vintage film. Quality is very good to excellent. Digital restoration and enhancement gives the best possible picture. Audio is excellent and matched to the train.

scl_mapThis map displays Seaboard Coast Line. As the story develops, connecting railroads are added to the map. Specific areas are highlighted, and closer views are used as needed.

Chessie 4439The 1970’s are great for seeing Chessie System engines with excellent paint. Most of the second generation locomotive fleet is pretty clean at the time.

Graphics are a key element. Custom made maps are frequently referenced. Locations, years and statistics are included.

Charles is a great narrator. A wealth of historical information is discussed. Fascinating ‘what- if ‘ scenarios offer even more perspective. The nicely balanced presentation has viewers enjoying straight trainwatching sequences as well.

Chessie System

Fascinating , a cornucopia of colorful trains with main action in the 1960’s thru 1980’s.

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co9050_brillThe Brill car is ridden and operated in the Appalachians. A must see has the 9050 riding on a creaking turntable!

co_e8Passenger trains from all three predecessors are included.

bo3722B&O 3722 is a GP40 built in 1969. Western Maryland tracks at Williamsport, MD.

wm_williamsport_helpersAlco FA units with a trailing RS3 are the helper set. These tracks are a bike trail today.

co7511_1975C&O 7511 in 1975. The large roster of Chessie and CSX had unrepainted power roaming the rails for years, such as this SD40 with the C&O For Progress nose herald.

csx4121_gp30B&O GP30 with the CSXT renumbering. Esthetically, these were much better than ugly patch jobs on other railroad mergers. Original paint schemes were fun to find on CSX.

co3257_cabooseChessie aficionados will be satisfied with this show. This review can only give a small sample of the numerous trains.

Seaboard System

The Seaboard Coast Line is prominently featured with a treasure trove of SCL footage. Early Seaboard Railroad is shown. Louisville & Nashville is another film rarity. Family Lines has plenty of coverage. Clinchfield Railroad even makes some cameo appearances. After the satisfying chapters of those railroads, Seaboard System is seen, before and early CSX era. This Seaboard half of the release is worth the price of admission. Viewers will benefit with intelligent background knowledge, and a plethora of trains.

seaboard_e8Charles is extremely thorough when he produces a program. Both shows reach back into the 1950’s with relevant footage of uncommon scenes. Various passenger trains operating to be shown, but this is one of the surprises!

scl1753_u36bSCL 1753 is a GE U36B. There is a good variety of power, paint and cabooses

ln2744_u23bL&N is a major component of Family Lines. A revelation is the L&N route mileage.

ln8142Explanation of Family Lines puts that group in perspective.

sbd1391_gp30Seaboard System is the final incarnation before CSX merger.

ln6131Cabooses are plentiful and an intriguing package of 1970’s – 1980 era.

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Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac

rfp145The RF&P bridge line is reviewed, before the line was absorbed. Yet, another hard to find railroad.

csx118_f7CSX F7A 118 is one of several later era scenes. The show progresses into the CSX Racetrack livery.

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scl_cabooseChessie Seaboard Hall of Fame is a big winner. Railfans and model railroaders will find this a goldmine. The rare factor alone makes this a must have program.

Once again, Charles Smiley has set the bar for vintage railroad shows.

Rating: 5 Stars

Norfolk & Western

Norfolk & Western ArticulatedsNW cover

Sunday River Productions

Length: 54 minutes

Time Period: 1950’s

Locations: Bluefield to Portsmith Ohio… more

Sources: Guy and Betty Brant

Producer: Alva Morrison- Digital Remaster 2007

MSRP: 39.95

Steam in the East Series

Norfolk & Western operated classic articulated steam locomotives, which were adept at many tasks on the railroad. Useful in coal service, freight and passenger assignments. Anything from slow to high speed manifest freights. N&W held off dieselization until 1957. Last steam there was operated in 1960. The cover artwork is titled Norfolk and Western. The film title displays Norfolk and Western Articulateds.

nw 2104 class y powhatan farNW 2104 is a Y Class leaving Powhaten. Ancient structures and 1950’s autos are nearly as intriguing as the vintage steam trains.

nw 2104 class y powhatan

Same train, the film looks excellent overall.

norfolk and western 2177 y6b class wv                                                    Y6B number 2177.

Sunday River has compiled over 100 runbys of colorful action on NW. The program features the A Class 2-6-6-4 in high speed moves. The huge Y Class 2-8-8-2 have those massive low pressure cylinders and haul their heavy trains over the Appalachians at a slower pace.

nw 2134 y class auville yard wv 2

The all color films were restored and look great. The camerawork is mostly excellent. A few shaky scenes are present. Special mention goes to O. Winston Link, who was the source for the vintage live sound recordings. Note, the sounds are excellent, but are not the actual trains being viewed. Originally released in 1986, it is a product of that videotape era. Narration by Alva Morrison. Script does contain good information. The narrative and musical background does show it’s age. A Chapter Menu has the A and Y Class with some location subset chapters.

nw 1224 class a

Digital remaster that was done in 2007. This all steam show looks excellent. Appearance is what carries the program. There are more than the two locomotive classes included. Watch for a Shay locomotive on a shortline. N&W Z Class and S1 switchers appear. A wide variety of locations and viewpoints keep the interest level up. Editing is very smooth, and it is a 2007 re-edit.

nw a class steam

Norfolk and Western Articulateds Part 1. Showcases the nimble A Class locomotive.

nw    Norfolk & Western – A Class 1228 with a coal train at Vera, Ohio.

Norfolk and Western Articulateds Part 2. This title contains the feature on the Y Class engine. Much of the action is around yards or in town at slower speeds. An advantage is an opportunity to study the huge compound steam engines operating.

nw 2176 y class spice creek branch wv

2176 is seen running on the Spice Creek Branch.

nw 2105 dh gs towerOn-screen graphics give many locations. No maps, but this show is an older one.

nw target wig wag                                  Unusual wig-wag target signals at grade crossings.

nw 2165 2153 auville yard                  An awesome scene,  2165 and 2153 ease past the camera at Auville Yard.

nw 2138 y class engineer chattaroyExtra 2138… Engineer and maybe the Fireman get a look at the man with a movie camera!

nw bluefield yard                          Nice pan shots of railyards and some town scenes.

nw virginian coal train hoppers scioto river bridgeA far cry and much more interesting than today’s unit coal equivalents. This coal train at Scioto River Bridge has mixed hoppers and gondolas.

nw caboose scioto river bridge

Norfolk and Western is a fine steam show. All color and a clean looking program. The 2007 update should be worth the upgrade, for those with an older release.

All steam fans should find this solid collection of N&W articulateds impressive.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars