“Q” Connections

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

 

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


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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Union Pacific Scrapbook

Union Pacific Scrapbookd130

Charles Smiley Presents

Length: 1 hour 40 minutes + previews

Time Period: 1950’s- 1996

Locations: Tehachapi Loop, Coast Line, Chicago, Laramie, Cajon Pass, Afton Pass and more…

Sources: Mark Johnson, Gino Pagliaro, Charles Smiley- video. Ten movie film sources.

MSRP: 29.50

Union Pacific Expansion Years is the fitting subtitle for this show. Scrapbook shows feature assorted films from multiple years and locations. A focus on the growth of this railroad includes the fit of additions to UP goals and operations.  Providing action of vintage and modern railroading. Plus, plenty of good old fashioned trainwatching! This release explores Union Pacific in this fashion.

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High quality is a hallmark of Charles Smiley productions. Notice how the diesel sounds are matched to the locomotive. Digital film processing gives fine picture standards.

1955

Featuring highly interesting and informative narration. Charles gives the audience a plethora of historical backgrounds. Passenger service is one of those discussions.

portland

Perfect scene for model railroaders to recreate in miniature. Charles is an accomplished  model railroader as well. This authentic yard is at Portland, Oregon. Check the ATVR links to visit Charles recreation of Southern Pacific in HO scale!

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Intriguing storyteller, the Rio Grande is one of the show within shows.

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Frequent and varied, multiple custom maps put the routes and locations in perspective. Thorough map coverage has system type maps for roads merged into UP, such as: Southern Pacific, Rio Grande, Missouri Pacific and Chicago Northwestern. Close up maps like Cajon Pass, are another welcome inclusion.

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Chicago was a key gateway, that had been long coveted for a direct connection. While joint CNW-UP power and cabooses could be seen for years in the area. It wasn’t until CNW was absorbed in 1995 … and that is explained in detail.

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tucson

Outside of Tucson, Arizona in the 1990’s.

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Sharp video from 1996 documents trains in the Tehacapi Loop vicinity.

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Classic shot at Tehachapi Loop.

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Unusual locations set this apart from many modern train videos of UP. Exhilarating cinematography, that is far ahead of crossing gate scenes of many others. Afton Canyon is a must see.

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.That 1965 Ford Mustang is a match for the year of this street running local.

Union Pacific Scrapbook is an excellent show for railfans and model railroaders. The vintage portions are a smaller percentage in this release. Get Union Pacific Vintage West first, if you want many classic trains.

Consider this one as a look at Union Pacific in the mid 1990’s. That will be great for those who are seeking double stacks and third generation locomotives. The modern slant is not my particular preference.

Any fan of this contemporary era of railroading, will be very happy with this program.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

WP Vintage West

WP Vintage Westcvr

Charles Smiley Presents

Length: 90 minutes

Time Period:1950’s- 1980’s

Locations: Systemwide and more

Sources: 18 includes: Gary McClain, John Illman.

MSRP: 29.50

The history of Western Pacific is covered in depth. There is a plethora of additional subjects, connecting roads, shortlines and Oro Dam construction.

Sacramento Northern and Key System are part of the story. Rio Grande has a large chunk as well. For those who want to delve into a historical Western Pacific program, this is your ticket.

high line locosUtilizing 18 different film sources could be a challenge. Digital restoration has everything looking nice. Mostly appears to be 8mm color film. Cameramen are generally excellent. Steam, early diesel, traction continues into Perlman Green.

3519 rainAudio has a high percentage of varied musical background on this show. The variety of music is interesting. Less train sounds then some other CSP shows. This release is more of a PBS style program.

high lineCustom maps and on screen graphics are frequently used. Here, the High Line is introduced.

Charles conveys a wealth of information. As subjects, stories and locations change, the WP sometimes gets lost. The deviations can get long. This takes away from some of the punch.

fExtensive coverage of the California Zephyr is here. Burlington Route and Rio Grande also have plenty of time for their parts of this famous train. The show within the show in 2 chapters.

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Ride the California Zephyr on Western Pacific and Rio Grande- classic style!

drgw 5721Rio Grande is looked at in detail. Quite a bit of time is on Rio Grande. Fans of that railroad will enjoy the amount of: history, locations and more. Another show within the show.

oroOro Valley Dam construction is a key point of that area’s history. Plenty of that too.

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A GP7 is performing some street running.

ftEarly diesels. These FT units are part of the original wave that replaced steam engines.

keddie rainAt Keddie and in the rain. The rear facing GE U-23B, is part of a scene that is good for model railroaders, Note the 1968 or 69 Chevy Camaro SS. Old water tower and more.

4241The Burlington Northern provided run through power. These rare Alco locomotives and tons of BN freight cars display the solid relationship of WP and BN.

boxcars keddie wye

Plenty of classic rolling stock on freights. You can’t beat the scenery either.

3519Four axle power was used by WP. The GP40 and GP40-2 models were favored. The last third of the program covers 1960- 1980. Great chapter.

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Charles has two other Western Pacific programs available. Western Pacific Remembered was released in 2012. That one is my favorite of the trio. Western Pacific- The Last Decade is the other. All of these are reviewed here.

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Greenway, Calirornia. The High Line.

WP Vintage West is a fine program. This one is rather quiet and feels a little flat compared to the 2012 show. All of the extra coverage of associated railroads is excellent. That does go pretty far off the Western Pacific story. A quality show, but not in my top rank for CSP.

Western Pacific is one of those railroads that are hard to find on film. This one is geared towards the history of this road and those other subjects. A must have for those so inclined.

Rating: 4 Stars

Southern Pacific Daylight Time

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A & R Productions

Length: 50 minutes

Time Period: 1930’s- 1950’s

Locations: Pacific Coast, Donner Pass, Chicago, Sunset Route, Mt. Shasta

Source: Blackhawk Collection

MSRP: 29.95

A collection of 5 vintage based SP films. Featuring steam era SP Coast Daylights and more. There are chapters on: SP/ RI Golden State, Cab Forwards and steam era Donner Pass snow service. Approximately half of this show is in black and white film.

coastThe early 1937 Coast Daylight footage was from pre- LAPUT days. Train 99 operates from Central Station in LA to Oakland Mole destination. Black and white film is clean. Interesting.

 sp the larkAction along the Pacific Coast with Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. The Lark is seen here.

gs2 train 99 laSP train number 99 departs Central Station in 1937 at Los Angeles. The GS-2 has it’s counterpart, train 98 scheduled southbound from Oakland.

Ted Daluku narrates a good script. Train sounds are included. The assorted chapters are titled and presented as a series of film shorts. Quality is very good on the whole. One film in particular, The Golden State, seems to have been produced in the 1950’s. Appropriate period corniness for modern viewers.

1952 City of San Francisco Donner PasssnowboundThe City of San Francisco is being freed from the snow in 1952.

4270 ac11SP 4270 is a late model AC11. Leading the Western Pacific California Zephyr at Truckee in 1952.

golden stateJointly operated by Rock Island and Southern Pacific, is The Golden State. Tracing the train from LaSalle Street Station in Chicago, this move winds up on SP’s Sunset Route to Los Angeles. Appears to be a railroad produced film.

F DonnerF units lead trains thru the snowsheds on Donner Pass. This frame has Donner Lake.

tnoSP Daylight Time. The Coast Daylights can be found in full color, on other programs. Naturally, it is still worthy for SP fans. For the rest of us, the vintage era Donner Pass action would be the main reason to acquire this release. A good and informative show.

Rating: 3 Stars

Union Pacific Vintage West

Union Pacific Vintage WestD-120

Charles Smiley Presents

Factory pressed DVD

Length: One Hour 38 minutes

Time Period: 1860’s – 1990’s

Locations: Everywhere

Sources: 14 Cameramen

MSRP: 28.50

Union Pacific Railroad may have had the ultimate assortment of diesel power during the 1960’s. Many served throughout the 1970’s. Ask any railfan who had the biggest diesel power, and they will answer UP. If you weren’t an eyewitness to that classic era, here is your chance.

Charles Smiley has given us a mega supply of these trains. All vintage, no modern, restored substitutions. As we expect, there is a treasure trove of information to gain. Historical, insider knowledge and ‘ what if ‘ scenarios. Comprehensive coverage of the many rare engine types.

cajon1955These GP9 engines are shown in 1955. Films range from the 1940’s into the 1990’s.

dd35a1DD35’s are more commonly seen, then would be expected. The dual GP35 model provides plenty of power. The focus is on the 1960 to 1980 period. That twenty years is the era you want. First and second generation power. All of the custom locomotives that UP was operating. This show is action packed.

dd35bUP ordered various cabless B units, such as the DD35B. Additionally: GP9B, SD24B and GP30B types were on the roster. Most of the competition did not order any cabless models, in the post F-unit years.

907Sourcing color film from 14 different cinematographers and one videographer, the many facets of Union Pacific are deftly woven together in a cohesive, all encompassing story.

turbine                          Two versions of turbines and their lifespan are covered.

As with the rest of the Charles Smiley catalog, high quality is assured. Film sources are generally in the very good to excellent range. Review space only allows a brief look into this encyclopedic presentation. The narrative alone is a goldmine.

u50In a show packed with rarities, a huge GE U50 is on the lead.

dd35                                       We Cab Handle It………………. We Know !

Audio tracks are synced to match the locomotives that are on the screen. Not everyone does this, and the difference is noticeable. He has a genuine enthusiasm for the subjects. Viewers receive a lively narrative. Strict attention to every detail, leaves the audience very aware of the action.

siskUP on SP rails. The Harriman era signals are still in use here and visible in the background.

Early history and the long lasting effects of E.H. Harriman’s management, are delved into thoroughly. Intertwining of SP and UP are one example.

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Custom, labor intensive maps are the best in the business. A multitude of maps display various points of UP evolution. A nice touch, the multiple merger partners or possible partners are also individually shown. Missouri Pacific added much to Union Pacific.

f3                                   Hard to imagine, the F3 as mainline power.

gp30Power such as this GP30 seem rather tame, in comparison to the behemoths.

riInclusion of numerous connecting railroads add even more interest to the program. Sure, some of that footage may overlap from another show. Keep in mind, not everyone may have all of his titles. The extra footage is always welcome. It is needed to tell the stories. A side order of : Santa Fe, Burlington Northern, Milwaukee Road and Rock Island are starters here. There are many more.

wpbnWestern Pacific and some of the operations under UP are reviewed. Earlier in the timeline, BN and WP had joined forces on the Inside Gateway. Viewers will hear about BN as well.

6918Centennial models were numbered in the 6900 series. DD40AX were designed exclusively for UP. They introduced new features that Electromotive would include in future models.

sd24Identification issues are solved in some scenes such as above,

939A Conductor is in charge of a train. Watch closely at his movements. Checks his watch and he is telling the Engineer a few things.

cabThere is much more within this fine program. Demo units, a bit of steam, trolley and electrics. A bunch of surprises. This show is one stop shopping, for classic Union Pacific.

e9The timeframe continues right into the contemporary era.

Union Pacific Vintage West is simply- Epic !

Rating: 5 stars