The Pennsy- and More!


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.


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


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

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


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.


EMD E units in Tucsan Red paint.


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!


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.


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


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.


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


Pennsy steamers looked… The Business!


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


Steam era to later years…


Horseshoe Curve. The classic hotspot, in any era!


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


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


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!


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


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.


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



Railfanning the Delaware and Hudson – Volume 3


Producer: John Pechulis

Locations: Binghamton, NY., Allentown, Philadelphia, DuPont, PA.

Time Period: 1978- 1985

Length: 73 minutes

Sources: Joe Bednar, Jonathan Reck

Third in this series continues the D&H story. A couple of mainlines are featured. Previous: Lehigh Valley, Central New Jersey, and Reading, were given to D&H to operate. Conrail trackage rights added even more territory, for D&H to run trains.


A brief introductory narrative. This is informative.  Preferred presentation, had it been given at relevant points throughout in the program.

Narration starts out strong. It is brief.  Returns in sparse segments.
This leaves natural audio for the remainder of the soundtrack. For the most part, it works out. A few scenes a little too much wind or background. Levelling could have been used, as well.

Overall, I much prefer to learn more. Operations, an area, or local history. These are some possibilities.


Now. That being said… Shot on Super 8mm film. The high quality visuals are a huge plus! It is a great looking show.


Maps, are such a nice piece to include. Simple, and effective to orientate viewers. Standard maps provide geographic orientation of the rail lines. They get the job done.

On screen graphics denote locations. Train designations are frequently included. The designations are pointless, without a corresponding narrative. Unless, one is familiar with the trains.


One glaring verbal error. Conrail is not a shipper. They are a Carrier. A Rail Carrier.

A shipper is an entity that provides freight. A factory, coal mine or steel mill, for example. A shipper can also be a Freight Forwarder. Container traffic.Another type of Carrier can be a Truckline. See the difference?


Back to the show. Action packed! Trains are non stop. They keep rolling across the screen. Fine cinematography!

vlcsnap-2018-12-23-01h23m50s719By this later date. Electromotive has become a serious player, on the  once Alco dominated, Delaware & Hudson roster.

vlcsnap-2018-12-23-01h29m30s302Surprising inclusion, is this Alco RS3M. Would have like to hear details about this Bi-Centenntial unit.


The Boston and Maine! Uncommon in railroad videos. Especially this clean. There are other B&M units to be found, within this program.

vlcsnap-2018-12-23-02h09m19s490Maine Central is another rare bird! The interest level continues to rise on this show.

vlcsnap-2018-12-23-01h50m15s315A cornucopia of D&H diesels to view. No call-outs on diesel designations. Obviously an Alco… I know what is. Do you?

vlcsnap-2018-12-23-01h44m44s952Norfolk and Western units appear frequently. Full sets, and mixed in, with other power. Another missed opportunity, on the narrative.

vlcsnap-2018-12-23-01h39m44s006Pushers are used on various trains. Note the former Reading unit here.

vlcsnap-2018-12-23-01h18m41s850Concluding with an independent line.
Anthracite Road. Former Reading Lines, Perkiomen branch is the operating trackage. An ex: D&H, RS-3 is the locomotive powering the freight.
Delaware and Hudson Volume 3 is a worthy addition to the series. The high level of action, and variety of locomotives, combine to a satisfying visit to the alphabet area.

Excellent visually. Good live train audio. More information via narration, would have rated higher marks.

Railfan only show.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars


Railfanning With The Bednars Volume 5

Railfanning With The Bednars Volume 5



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.


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.


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?


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.


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!


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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



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

Vignettes of the Jersey Central Volume 3

Vignettes of the Jersey Central Volume 3cvr

Clear Block Productions

Length: 53 minutes

Time Period: early 1960’s- 1970’s

Locations: Jersey City to Scranton (many places)

Sources: A. Angstadt, K. Bealer, W. McClennan, J. Reck, R. Wilt

MSRP: 30.00

Third volume begins at Communipaw, NJ in the early 1960’s. Freight and commuter service are covered. Nearly the entire length of Jersey Central is within this show. Five film sources were used for this program. All color presentation of 8mm sources. Todd Miller has good, but too minimal narration.

Baltimore and Ohio owned the cash strapped CNJ at this time. Plenty of hastily relettered B&O power is seen serving CNJ. Of course, regular B&O locomotives are present. Other railroad diesels are: Reading, Lehigh Valley and a little cameo of Delaware & Hudson. Also. Norfolk and Western leased F units, in assorted assignments. A few RDC scenes too.

comm                    Striking, 1st generation lashups are on the early 1960’s footage.

Clear Block has plenty of authentic train sounds to augment the old films. By builder, they sound different. Pretty good overall effect.

There are zero maps or on screen graphics. The way we travel around, increased location awareness is badly needed. A viewer can end up feeling lost.

rs                      Alco RS-3 engines operate at what looks like Allentown Yard.

Film quality is unrestored. Imagery ranges from fair to good. Sometimes, the color balance is off. Keep in mind, any vintage CNJ is hard to find.

cnj9701Vintage diesels from the various builders appear in 1st and 2nd generation models. Fairbanks Morse switchers in yard service.

bald                                   Baldwin switchers and old road units are still operating.

crane2Poor condition track is evident. Some trains rock violently and you will see a number of derailment sites. A pair of steam cranes are rerailing piggyback cars.

pushers Red Baron scheme is barely evident in this volume. This pair of Geeps are pushing this passenger move at an unknown location.

cabride The final section is a lengthy cabride on a freight from Allentown to Scranton, Pennsylvania.

hoop                Time honored practice of hooping up the orders to a passing train.

This third volume has a wide variety of CNJ film . Viewers will have to consider the unrestored nature of the show. A solid narrative would have achieved a higher score.Seems best geared for the hardcore fan. It has plenty of rare, and hard to find material. More casual fans may be disappointed. Overall, it feels like an old, early train video.

In any case, if you seek vintage Jersey Central, this is an action packed release.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars