Archive for the ‘Train Video Reviews’ Category

Big Boy 4014 Restoration Underway!

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

If you haven’t heard already, Union Pacific is in the process of restoring a Big Boy locomotive for operation. This is pretty exciting news for railfans, especially foamers (I use this term affectionately) with a penchant for steam locomotives. So far, UP 4014 has been moved from the RailGiants Train Museum at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona, CA to Union Pacific’s steam locomotive shop in Cheyenne, Wyoming. UP anticipates the restoration will take about 5 years; they are hoping to have it operational in time for the 150th Golden Spike Anniversary in 2019.

UP Big Boy 4014

No. 4014 Big Boy, Pomona, Calif., July 2013 (Credit: UP Steam Media Kit of

What makes Big Boys unique? The Big Boy was originally designed by the American Locomotive Company as an articulated, coal-burning, 4-8-8-4 to power wartime tonnage over the Wasatch Mountains and Sherman Hill. In fact, originally it was going to be called the Wasatch locomotive but one of ALCO’s mechanics working on the project wrote the words ‘Big Boy’ in chalk on the boiler and the name stuck. There were originally 20 built for Union Pacific with an additional order for 5 more to handle the increasing loads required by the war effort. Due to the impending switch of the industry to Diesel engines, there were no more produced. Only 8 of the Big Boys survive and all are in various states of (dis)repair in static (non-operating) display.

Once Union Pacific decided they wanted to restore a Big Boy, their Steam Operations Team went to visit all 8 remaining Big Boys to determine which was in the best shape to be restored to operation. They decided upon Big Boy 4014 owned by the Southern California Chapter of The Railway and Locomotive Historical Society where it had been on display in the mild climate of Southern California since 1962. To lessen the blow of taking Big Boy #4014 off their hands, UP gave the museum a freshly painted SD40-2C Diesel Locomotive (UP 3015), UP insulated boxcar #453665, and a CA-13-2 Bay Window Steel Caboose (UP 24567). The RailGiants Museum blog has many pictures and reports of the play-by-play action of the Big Boy moving out and the replacements moving in.

UP Bay Window Caboose

UP Caboose #24567 (Photo by Danny Mouawad)

Pentrex was also on hand for the elaborate process of moving the 4014 out of its Southern California home and onto the rails.  Their new DVD, Big Boy 4014 Update gives some history of the Big Boy locomotive including some nice vintage footage. The majority of the DVD is detailed coverage of  how the Big Boy #4014 made its way from its home of 52 years back onto the tracks so it could be relocated to Wyoming. The DVD shows a front-end loader towing 4014 from its static home at the RailGiants Train Museum through the parking lot using pre-built panel track sections (just like snap track!), to the San Gabriel Metrolink line. Then it joined a Special made up of UP Heritage 1996 (SD70ACE), 7 flat cars (6 empty and 1 carrying a vehicle and supplies for the Steam Operations Team) and UP 4014 (a diesel locomotive specifically chosen to help the Big Boy 4014 head to UP’s facility in Cheyenne, WY which took it onto the mainline.)

Big Boy 4014 Update

Big Boy 4014 Update DVD from Pentrex (Released June 2014) Click for more info or to order.

The first half of the DVD has almost constant narration about the logistics of each step of the elaborate move. The 2nd half of the DVD shows many long run-bys (including some nice footage on Cajon Pass), train meets, and the crowds of fans who turned out along the way to get a glimpse of this historic locomotive and its journey as it passes through Southern California.

More Big Boy


From Pentrex:

Big Boy Combo Part 1

Big Boy Combo Part 1 DVD (Click for more info)

Big Boy Combo Part 2

Big Boy Combo Part 2 DVD (Click for more info)

Union Pacific Big Boy Collection

Union Pacific Big Boy Collection DVD (Click for more info)

Big Boys, Cab Forwards, Challengers & Daylights

Big Boys, Cab Forwards, Challengers & Daylights DVD

Union Pacific Classic Collector's Series Combo

Union Pacific Classic Collector's Series Combo DVD

From Greg Scholl:

Big Boys & Challengers

Big Boys & Challengers DVD

From Sunday River Productions:

Big Boys and Brothers in the '50s DVD

Sunday River Productions just released Big Boys and Brothers in the '50s on DVD, August 2014

For HO Modelers, from Rivarossi:

Union Pacific Big Boy Steam Engine #4008 - DCC Ready (HO)

Union Pacific Big Boy Steam Engine #4008 - DCC Ready (HO) from Rivarossi

Show off your Big Boy enthusiasm with this great Big Boy T-Shirt:

Big Boy at Night (Glow in the Dark T-shirt)

Big Boy at Night (Glow in the Dark T-shirt)

Child Sizes $12.99

Adult M, L, XL $14.99

2X $16.99

3X $18.99


To read more about Big Boys here are some links:

UP’s 4014 Page with TONS of info

RailGiants Train Museum Big Boy Page

RailGiants Train Museum Big Boy News

The UP 4014 Project – Memories of the Move (YouTube Video from Union Pacific Railroad)


Train Video Reviews – Northeast Rails Remembered II (DVD)

Sunday, March 27th, 2011
Northeast Rails Remembered II DVD from Charles Smiley Presents

Northeast Rails Remembered II DVD from Charles Smiley Presents

Northeast Rails Remembered II on DVD (2011) makes its debut March of 2011 highlighting the end of the Delaware and Hudson (D&H) in the early 1990s. It succinctly covers the history of the D&H, and gives interesting tidbits about some of the towns, industry, and history surrounding the rail line and its transition to Canadian Pacific (CP) Rail.

All the power you will see in this video is diesel-electric from GP38s to SD50s & B23-7s to C40-8s all built between 1967 and 1991 including paint from: Canadian Pacific (CP), Chesapeake & Ohio (CO), Conrail (CR), Chessie Seaboard Multiplied Transportation (CSXT), Delaware & Hudson (D&H), Grand Trunk (GT), Maine Central (MEC), Missouri Pacific (MP), Norfolk Southern (NS), New York, Susquehanna & Western (NYSW), Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac (RFP), Santa Fe (SF), Seaboard System (SBD), Seaboard Coast Line (SCL), SOO Lines (SOO), Southern Railway (SOU), as well as some leased power from GATX & PLMX.

Delaware & Hudson power from Northeast Rails Remembered II DVD by Charles Smiley Presents

Delaware & Hudson power from Northeast Rails Remembered II DVD by Charles Smiley Presents

That’s a lot of variety but nothing like the variety of rolling stock witnessed during the 93 minutes of this program. Aside from the road names already mentioned you’ll see the following in varying quantities: Ashley, Drew & Northern (ADN), Bangor & Aroostook (BAR), Bay Line Railroad (BAYL), Boston & Maine (BM), Berlin Mills Railway (BMS), Burlington Northern (BN), Columbus & Greenville (CAGY), Corinth & Counce Railroad Company (CCR), Canadian National (CN), Green Bay & Western (GBW), Greenville & Northern (GRN), Illinois Central Gulf (ICG), Illinois Terminal (ITC), Lamoille Valley (LVRC), Milwaukee Road (MILW), Minneapolis, Northfield & Southern (MNS), Norfolk Western (NW), Oregon, California & Eastern (OCE), Pittsburgh & Shawmut (P&S), Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR), Quebec Central (QC), Reading (RDG), Sandersville Railroad (SAN), Southern Pacific (SP), St. Louis Southwestern Railway (SSW), Terminal Railway Alabama State Docks (TASD), and Union Pacific (UP).

But wait! There’s more! In addition to all that you get to see acid trains, coal trains (I was pleased to see a bunch of Shawmut Line hoppers!), iron ore trains and phosphate trains. Also checkout the Rail Analyzer Car and Track Geometry Car courtesy of Conrail, a few passenger cars via Chicago & Northwestern (CNW) and North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDT) and a great look at the James E. Strates Railroad Carnival.

James E. Strates Railroad Carnival from Northeast Rails Remembered II from Charles Smiley Presents

James E. Strates Railroad Carnival from Northeast Rails Remembered II from Charles Smiley Presents

Phew! That’s a lot of variety.  Which in some ways dictates the overall form of the video. Although there is some narration regarding D&H and some of the history and locales, the majority of this film is simply presenting run-by after run-by of colorful trains. Many trains will make an appearance several times throughout the video as it passes through different locations. To some, that might sound dangerously boring but as a chronicle of graffiti-free trains from a time gone by it excels, giving you plenty of opportunities to view the trains from different vantage points. This format also allows you to experience much uninterrupted natural sounds from the trains with almost no competing sounds from the environment. It provides a nice, pure train experience.

Shot by Tom Luckey (Mountain Grades of the B & O, Northeast Rails Remembered) this video was filmed in the late 1980s and early 1990s throughout all the seasons (though winter/fall seems to dominate with most shots containing bare northeastern trees). Aside from some landmarks like the Lehigh River, Hill to Hill Bridge, and Bethlehem Steel Plant the frequency of winter forests are a nice neutral backdrop for all the colorful trains to stand out against.

Northeast Rails Remembered II Map from Charles Smiley Presents

Northeast Rails Remembered II Map from Charles Smiley Presents

Northeast Rails Remembered II is great for people who like diesel locomotives, lots of variety in road names, and appreciate seeing pre-graffiti trains of the northeast, particularly Pennsylvania. The majority of this film simply lets the trains roar by telling their own story however, it’s punctuated by the tried and true Charles Smiley maps and narration giving some reference and structure to what is a high volume, quality, and variety of train footage.