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



Big Boy Combo DVD Part 1


Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1950s

Locations: Cheyenne, Sherman Hill

Length: 1 hour 23 minutes

Source: Union Pacific, Pentrex

What we have here. Is an original, vintage Union Pacific program, on Big Boy steam locomotives. A second show. Pentrex made, about the UP Cheyenne Shops. These are paired on a single DVD. Special Collectors’ Edition.


The Last of the Giants. The original and definitive show, on Big Boy locomotives. Union Pacific produced this program. Hours of film. The 23 minute show is a classic!


Last of the Giants Volume 2: The Cheyenne Shops. Culled from hours of original film from that old production. Interviews added to augment the Big Boy story.


A detailed Chapter menu makes life easy.

Pentrex production excellence. No worries.

Broadcast style narrative. Great script.


The largest steam locomotive in the world! Engineer has seniority too!

Holler up some instructions. Let’s get things on the move… The BIG BOY is here!


ALCO 4-8-8-4. Over one million pounds.


Modern UP steam guru Steve Lee adds a wealth, of background knowledge. As do some former Cheyenne shop force employees.


The time flies as the story is told. Surprising, how much old film exists in the vault. Not only of the Big Boys. Challengers, Turbines and whatever else was nearby at the time of the shoot.


A 48 stall roundhouse with large support facilities. Thousands of employees needed to keep the steam fleet operational. Learn all about, what it took to keep things running.


The interior views of the shops are astounding! Those small glimpses that you may have seen. Are complete, and discussed in a fully coherent chapter form.


That original steam service facility. Had some heavy equipment, to rival anyone. Serious business, for a single railroad.


Listen carefully to the workforce employed by Cheyenne. A complicated machine. Experts required to maintain.


Women remained employed by the railroad after World War 2.


After viewing this program. One can understand the order placements for diesel power. Doesn’t mean that one has to like it.


#4013 is ready to roll… Diesels…Bah! Not now. The advantage of a film collection!


Absolutely, a fascinating steam engine to see in operation or learn about.


Ultra clean clean film presentation by Pentrex.  Perhaps, not the neighborhood laundry in 1956!


Big Boys put on an awesome display!

Big Boy Last of the Giants combo DVD.

A great pair of Union Pacific steam locomotive shows, to add to anyone’s collection!

Rating: 5 Stars

Rio Grande of the Rockies


Producer: WB Video

Timeframe: 1940s- 1950s

Locations: Durango, Salida,Marshall Pass, Tennessee Pass, more..

Length: One hour

Source: Irving August

Here is Irving August, with his own collection of vintage Rio Grande films. Steam to diesel transition era. Color with Black and white film.

The quality 16 mm footage includes various classes of steamers. Standard and Narrow gauge! There is much coverage.


The cinematography is nicely done. Sometimes, there were 2 cameras to record scenes. Excellent views. Well positioned on S -Curves. Onboard views.


This old program is pro edited. Now appears dated. Picture is soft, on a large, modern screen. Shot quality can vary, as this was filmed over the years. Still very watchable.


No Chapter Menu. No maps. Has a small  transfer flaw or something, across the bottom of the screen.


Narration by Irving E. August himself. An oldtimer’s voice. Reading a script from a page. Every bit as stiff, and dry as it sounds. This was how some houses, were doing videos in the 1980s.

Rege Cordic performs a smooth introduction. They should have stayed with him. Oh well, moving on.


At Minturn. Locomotive servicing areas are shown.

Natural sounds let the viewers hear the engines operate. Dubbed of course. Some scenes work better than others. Levels are even. Good balance.

vlcsnap-2019-02-05-11h38m00s062Tennesee Pass in color, with mid train steam helpers.


Irving is knowledgeable. An excellent cinematographer! He is informative. He is also somewhat tedious, to listen to in this show. Like a very old fashioned school teacher, reading from a book.

By the fall of 1956. Steam on the standard gauge is almost through. That white plume blows high in the zero degrees!


These men did a great job of capturing the last days of these steam engines at work. Tough guys. Out in some very cold temps.

vlcsnap-2019-02-05-11h48m31s074South of Littleton. Check those automobiles!

Narrow gauge is also visited. Again, very well filmed. A little fuzzy on some locations. Mumbles it sometimes.


Clarity returns! The mine runs. Monarch. Switchbacks. Awesome close-ups. Action packed. Superb presentation.


Fascinating operation to see now…


There wasn’t any 911 this far out! Seriously, probably more for possible predators.


Irving visits Durango in 1951.


K27 Mudhens at Durango in 1951. The Silverton train ran behind 478 that day. Additional locomotive classes too. An outbound train to Salida.


The 318 with a rare freight train. This locomotive survives today.


The 268 at Gunnison, on it’s final workday. City park retirement will be follow.

In the snow 1952. 100 cars. Gunnison -20 and a train leaving for Crested Butte…


Hardcore action. These men were all about getting it on film. No food and a surprise invitation. Below zero weather. Let’s ride!


May, 1955 last run over Marshall Pass. Depart Salida, with empty gondolas for otherside cleanup. Return with any cleanout cars remaining on the line.

Once, was the location of the highest Post Office in the United States. Snow drifts could cover the entire structure.


Delivery has been made at Sergeant, Co. Return trip. Final run over Marshall Pass.


DRGW caboose was out in any color you like. As long as it was black.


Exception… Narrow Gauge in Brown.

Rio Grande of the Rockies. Covers the subjects as stated. Much of this film is rare. Especially in 16mm and color! Solid show.


WB Video, Irving August and Rocky Mountain Railroad Club deliver the goods.

Rating: 4 Stars



Vignettes of the Western Maryland Volume One


Producer: Clear Block

Timeframe: 1940 – 1975

Locations: System

Length: 1 hour

Sources: Multiple

A large collection of films. Steam to mostly diesel. Preponderance, of color footage. Wide coverage of this railroad.


Todd Miller performs the narrative. Good script that he wrote. It moves geographically across the territory. A well organized show.vlcsnap-2019-01-31-22h14m22s183

Hence, the timeline jumps as the program progresses. A production decision. One could argue the continuity of time. I would make the argument, the sensibility of time progression. No matter. Let’s go!


Maps are used judiciously. Excellent, to have these frequently referenced. This show really moves around.


We will visit Pen Mar Park, circa 1940s. Jump in a locomotive cab, here and there. A tiny amount of interurban service. See the odd loco in Chessie paint.


Film quality hovers around medicore. Some scenes are a bit less. Some later scenes, are a little higher quality. Much of it, looks dull or unbalanced. The collection sure could use restoration.

In the year 2019. These old, unrestored 8mm film collections are wearing thin. Historical value is obvious. Consumer value can be, less beneficial. Seek the best quality films first. Read the reviews.


Cinematics themselves are much better! Good camera skills, by about a dozen men.  Filmed over many years. Nice work.


The commoners can be found in higher quality, in other programs. It is then a question of rarities, or completeness for collectors. They are here.


Audio is surprisingly excellent.  In this case, almost astounding. Considering the general viewing standards. Locomotive sounds are matched to types. Obviously, much effort was put forth. Resulting into an accurate  environmental soundtrack.

vlcsnap-2019-01-31-21h31m19s363Ubiquitous EMD F7 units served WM with long careers. Note the nose logo here.

vlcsnap-2019-01-31-22h11m40s297Alco locomotives are out on the mainlines. RS-3 units, as well.


This program has plenty of variety.


A rare BL- 2 set operates in yard service.


New circus paint, first appeared in 1969. This SD40 trio illustrates the schemes.


Norfolk and Western, along with Reading trains, pass through parts of the WM territory.


Chessie System paint began in 1972. One of the Safety Slogan series.


The now vintage, Northeast caboose was a staple on Western Maryland.

Vignettes of the Western Maryland Volume One. An interesting show. It covers the railroad as advertised. The visuals are weaker than expected. The audio is much stronger than one would expect. Some rare items within. There you have it.

So… Do you need it?



IF Western Maryland cranks your tractor…

Rating: 3 Stars


“Q” Connections


Producer: Steve Bransfield

Timeframe: 1940s- 1963

Locations: Chicago, Galesburg, Denver, San Francisco, and more..

Length: 50 minutes

Sources: Blackhawk collection

Burlington Route is the main railroad in this show. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, had  the connections that are featured. This leads into offshoot tangent storylines.

Therefore, Q Connections. The California Zephyr is a major part of this premise. Serving from Chicago to San Francisco, CA. This train involves multiple lines, as it traverses across the Western United States.


Program contains mostly color. Additional black and white films. No chapter menus.

Ted Dalaku is the clear voiced narrator. Familiar on A&R Productions. Full narration. Script is well written. To the point and descriptive.

Audio is dubbed with train sounds. Narration level is dominant. Actually, sounds unbalanced. The way a commercial plays too loud versus a program.


The images do vary by the source film. Good overall. Not by modern standards. Fine for older train videos. Editing is good. Everything is watchable. Nothing weird.


There are some maps. Older release. They are fine. Some interesting pan shots, of the old cities throughout.


Galesburg, Illinois had a major yard for Burlington Route. A pair of E7 locomotives lead different Zephyrs.


Burlington Route has the California Zephyr.

The CZ will origin at Chicago Union Station. There are multiple shows about the CZ. While a decent production. Quality on this one is not the best of the more modern CZ shows. Does have the vintage factor in it’s favor.


Denver and Rio Grande Western. Rio Grande, has spectacular scenery. DRGW locomotives were used to power the Zephyr over this portion of the journey.


Colorful, Western Pacific EMD F3 sets lead the Zephyr on the final leg of it’s journey. California has it’s own, Feather River Canyon. This alone, is a scenic as anything else on the trip.



Burlington Route steam fan trip in 1963. This big Northern type is from Denver.


Western Pacific Fast Freight. As an attached seperate film. A WP freight move in the 50s. Oakland to Salt Lake City, Utah. Number 62 travels the line. Cab ride and airplane shots.


The intricacies of moving this train are studied. A time capsule. An old black and white film. Apparently, a vintage Blackhawk release. Well done piece.


Additional vintage film. This one IS rare! An Iowa shortline that connected to the Q. The Manchester and Oneida. An old former, CB&Q 4-4-0 served the 8 mile long track.


A&R Productions has this assortment, released under the CB&Q flag. A collection of varying interest. Depends on your own interests.

“Q” Connections is a mixed bag.

Everywhere West and then some…

Rating: 3 Stars