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From the diamonds at Plant City we look west toward Tampa where an Amtrak passenger train with a single FP40 styled locomotive is making it's approach at track speed. Engine # 331 bangs over the diamonds of the s-line where we will see the phosphate train north of here and gallops up the hill toward Lakeland. The scene dissolves till we see the train disappears at the top of the hill. Next we head north on the old Seaboard line to an area that was known as Knights. As headlights approach from the north the camera starts rolling. In the distance we notice the engine is belching a lot of black smoke. Some railfans enjoy seeing this and it makes for a unique shot from the dry stream bed next to the trestle. Just before the train comes into view the black smoke immerging from the vegetation gives the allusion of a grass fire. Slow moving engine 3252 in family line gray, yellow & red trim finally comes into view with the name of the new railroad stenciled onto the nose of the engine. 3253 leads 5791 followed by a road slug and another engine over the trestle pulling an assortment of phosphate tank and open hopper cars. Caboose M-5 # 976122 brings up the rear. We catch the middle of the train again near Plant City and watch it change the approach signal to red by don't see the engines or caboose at this location. Run time approximately 5 minutes 30 seconds.
A cloudy afternoon as Engine # 5789 still in family line paint leads road slug 5206 and freshly new company painted 3232 though the switch and joins the tracks of the Yeoman sub-division from the Valrico sub-division, engine has a unique sounding horn. The trains consists entirely of hoppers cars, some very new looking with fresh paint but most very old looking with rust. There is a caboose but dust obscures the number. Crossing gates come up, traffic starts to move and the train rounds the bend toward Tampa. Run time approximately 4 minutes 30 seconds.
Still cloudy we pan the camera briefly through the yard but our attention focuses on the train in the distance moving our way. Engines 5873 and 5862 still in family lines paint move slowly, but a crew member from the engine sprints briskly in front of the train to line switches so the engines don't have to stop. From the variety of the cars in this long train I'm assuming it's a yard job, every thing from tanks, hoppers, scrap iron, rail boxes, Conrail auto racks, a Norfolk and Western box car to an Appalachia Northern box to FRE mechanicals make up the consist. The end of the train stops near the camera and we get a close up view of the end of train telemetry device in use at that time. Switches are lined and the trains starts it's slow reverse movement affording another nice close up view of the engines. As this train back east another train is seem approaching from that direction. Engine 5800 leads our new train followed by road slugs 5217, 5219 and freshly painted in new company colors 5763. Run time approximately 11 minutes 30 seconds
And they all appear to be on line and pulling. We see the engines approach and watch them as they near the US 301 highway bridge. This was a long train but nothing in the consist noted of any interest, mostly hopper cars and the segment ends before the entire train passes. It must have been cold. Run time approximately one minute 45 seconds.
We arrive at Auburndale shortly after the trains do but we get to watch them combine. The FP40 style engine from Tampa aided by mechanics in their white disposable suits disconnect and un-couple the engine from the Tampa train and Amtrak engine #409 moves past us and just north of the connection track from Miami. Next engine # 265 from Miami pull forward with two baggage cars at the rear and is coupled to #409. The rest of the Miami trains waits patiently south of the connection. We get a birds eye view of the cables and hoses being connected between the engines while staying out of the way of the crew with our zoom lens. The two engines and two baggage cars now back down the ex Atlantic Coast Line and after several attempts are coupled to the baggage car and the rest of the train from Tampa. The entire Tampa train heads north and clears the connection track from the ex Seaboard Air Line, the switch is lined and the train backs into the train from Miami to couple and get connected. At this point problems develop, conversation references a bent prong. The talented mechanical guys fix the problem on the spot and we hear someone radio "OK Billy pull her out". The trains stops one last time to line the switch for our next treat. Plenty of interested radio chatter is heard. Note the armadillos and "Hialeah" stenciled into the ends of some of the cars. An autorack trains has apparently taken the siding north of Auburndale to wait for the passenger train and now makes it's approach What a treat, engine # 6024 leads a four unit lash up toward Tampa in Chessie paint as we hear the cars bang through the diamond under the highway bridge. Scene ends with a view of the engine rounding the bend at Auburndale. Run time approximately 20 minutes.
Almost missed this one, buy the time I could get the camera ready the train was rapidly closing in. The train passes at track speed or better with one FP40 type locomotive pulling. We follow the end of the train down a slight grade till it disappears around a bend. Run time approximately one minute.
It's morning and we are on the west side of the track so the light is against us and there that annoying crossing control silver box is getting in the way, but none the less we get a good shot of the the seven unit lash up led by an engine 3246 still in family lines paint. This is a long train and the scene is some what truncated by dissolves. Just as this train fades from views another north board approaches. For this one we are able to move to the east side of the tracks. Engine 5843 and three other engines pull another long one through the lush vegetation surrounding the tracks. Run time approximately 4 minutes 25 seconds
The morning fog has almost burned off and looking south we see the train approaching the end (or beginning of the siding depending on your perspective) on the main line and really pulling up the slight grade and from around a bend at track speed. Nice sounding horn from these three SP engines. This is a long train with every thing from logs to tank cars. Run time approximately 2 minutes 55 seconds
A brief view of the station then the camera swings trackside for the north bound led by FP40 365. The train stops on this double track section and passengers disembark and board. Camera swings around to the south for a complete view of the train. The train pulls out and we can hear radio communications with this train and the south bound, plus the Dade City defects detector. Minutes after the north bound fades in the distance we see the approaching south bound. From the unusual camera angle one might worry about the camera man being decapitated by the on coming train. After the train has stopped we see that all is well and the camera man and camera had briefly separated company for this short. Again we see the crew assisting the passengers and we start walking toward the head end. Before we can get located for a shot of the engine the train starts to move. Before the train passes we hear a break application, the train stops and a passenger disembarks. Guess the platform wasn't long enough for this train. Nice shot of the train rounding a rather sharp bend with markers in place. Run time approximately 10 minutes.
This is our third VHS to DVD offering. The first two AMTRAK, SEABOARD COAST LINE, FLORIDA 1982 ORLANDO AREA and Florida Railroad trains video on DVD late 1980's were both shot using a Panasonic PK-751 camera and it's companion recorder. This was a two unit rig with the camera and the recorder as separate unites connected by a large cable. These huge machines were among the first video cameras designed for home use. The camera had a "vidicon" tube notorious for streaking in low light situations. On this DVD we have upgraded to a GE CCD sensor type camera. Where it does not offer the sharpness of today's video cameras it is a vast improvement from the vidicon camera.
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