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B End Of Car The end where the hand brake is located, unless otherwise identified.
B&B Bridge and Building department.
Baby Lifter A brakeman.
Back Saw 1) A saw with a reinforcing bar on the top edge. 2) [MR] Usually fine tooth saws called "Razor or Snap saws."
Back To The Farm Laid off on account of slack business. When a man is discharged he is given six months twice a year.
Backdrop Background scenery usually on a wall behind the layout that can be painted, a printed background or a large photograph.
Bad Order When a defective car is found by a car inspector, he tacks a small card labeled "bad order" in bold lettering on or near the door of the car. That car may not be moved from the terminal where the inspection occurred until the necessary repairs are made. The car must be marked at night by a blue light when men are working around it.
Bad Order Track A track on which cars are set to wait for repairs.
Baggage Car American term for luggage wagon.
Baggage Smasher A baggage handler.
Bail By moving the independent brake handle sideways, the engineer can release locomotive brake cylinder pressure that is due to an automatic brake application (a brake pipe pressure reduction). The bail has no effect on brake cylinder pressure that is due to an independent brake application. Also, firing a loco by hand.
Bail It In Feed the locomotive firebox.
Bake Head Locomotive fireman (because his head was near the door of firebox when shoveling coal).
Baling Wire Mechanic A man of little mechanical ability.
Ball (of a Rail) The head of the rail.
Ball Of Fire Fast run.
Ballast Usually gravel, cinders, or crushed rock placed between ties and around track and roadbed to help prevent the track from moving, spread load, provide bearing for ties and track, and to drain water and help control weed growth.
Ballast Scorcher Fast-running engineer.
Balloon Stack Smokestack found on most old time wood burners. Many had large kite or diamond-shaped housings. The shape was used to help prevent sparks from escaping.
Balloon Track Technical term for a reverse loop.
Balsa A Lightweight wood sometimes used in model railroading, however better suited for model airplanes because of its light weight.
Band Wagon Pay car or pay train from which wages were handed out to railroad employees.
Banjo Fireman's shovel; old-style banjo-shaped signal.
Banking Assisting the working of a train, usually when ascending a grade, by attaching one or more locomotives to the rear of the train.
Barefoot Car or engine without brakes. (Many locomotives built in the 1860's and 1870's were not equipped with brakes except on the tank.)
Barn Locomotive roundhouse, so-called from the building in which streetcars are housed.
Bascule Bridge A general term for a counter-balanced lift bridge.
Baseboard The baseboard is the structure carrying the model railway.
Basswood A light weight wood used in model railroading due to its strength and smooth grain structure. Northeastern lumber and others manufacture scale lumber in Basswood.
Bat The Stack Off Of Her 1) Make fast time.
2) Work an engine at full stroke.
Battery Box 1) Compartment on diesel locomotives housing lead-acid batteries. 2) A wooden or concrete box that held the batteries necessary to operate signaling equipment in the days before widespread power distribution. (drawing of a wooden battery box.)
Batting 'Em Out Used generally by switchmen when a yard engine is switching a string of cars.
Battleship 1) Large freight engine or interurban car, or a coal car.
2) A formidable female, such as the landlady or a henpecked man's wife.
Bay Platform A bay platform (or bay road) is a short terminal platform let into a longer one, normally for terminating branch or local trains.
Beanery Railroad eating house. Beanery queen is a waitress.
Beans 1) Meet orders.
2) Lunch period.
Bearing Box A grease box providing lubrication for a rail car or locomotive axle.
Bearing Detection Temperature measuring device designed to detect overheated axle bearings.
Beat 'Er On The Back Same as Bat The Stack Off Of Her.
Beehive Railroad yard office.
Behind "x" Trims Trims are sorted tracks of cars in a hump yard pulled out of the sorting tracks and coupled to make up outbound trains. A yard "behind on trims" is behind on its outbound train building.
Bell Ringer Locomotive fireman.
Bellows Class 362 B-B-B Ansaldo electrics. So called because of bellows connecting both halves of articulated body.
Bellows American Term for corridor connections, flexible connection or corridor providing access from the end of one car to another.
Belpaire Firebox Square topped fireboxes typical of a Pennsylvania and Great Northern Locomotives.
Belt Line A railroad with trackage within and/or around a city, operating as a pickup, delivery and transfer facility for truck lines and industrial plants.
Benchwork A frame which is the foundation of a model railroad layout. L girder and open grid (sometimes called butt-joint) are two popular types.
Bend the Iron or Bend the Rails Change the position of a track switch.
BIE Brakes In Emergency; application of the emergency braking system.
Big Boy Popular name for largest steam locomotive, the Union Pacific 4-8-8-4.
Big Boys Special trains for officials.
Big C The conductor (from the Order of Railway Conductors).
Big E A railroad engineer (for Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers).
Big Four 1) CCC & StL(The Cleveland Cincinnati Chicago and St Louis Railway Company), a component of the New York Central System. 2) The four operating Brotherhoods- Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, Order of Railway Conductors, Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, and Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers.
Big Hole Emergency application of air-brake valve, causing a quick stop.
Big Hook A wrecking crane.
Big O Conductor; so named from first initial in Order of Railway Conductors. Sometimes called big ox and less complimentary terms.
Big Rock Candy Mountains Hobo's paradise, as described in song by Harry K. McClintock. (See Indian Valley Line).
Big Wheel A rotary snowplow.
Bill of Lading A carrier's contract describing freight, its charges and destination in detail specifying that the carrier has received goods for transport from one place to another.
Binders Hand brakes.
Bindle Stiff Hobo who totes a blanket and uses it wherever night finds him. (Bindle is a corruption of "bundle").
Bird Cage Brakeman's or switchman's lantern.
Black Diamonds Company coal. Diamond cracker is a locomotive fireman.
Black Hole Tunnel.
Black Ones Railway Express refrigerator or boxcars having no interior illumination pressed into mail service during the Christmas rush.
Black Snake Solid train of loaded coal cars.
Blackballed Black-listed, boycotted.
Blackjacks Fifty-ton Santa Fe coal cars painted black.
Blazer Hot journal with packings afire.
BLE Initials of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers union.
Bleed To drain the air from the brake system of a car or cars.
Bleeder The value by which air is bled from the auxiliary air tank reservoir on a car.
Blended Braking Using a combination of service braking and dynamic braking.
BLF&E Initials of Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen union.
BLF&E Initials of Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Engine-men union.
Blind Baggage Hobo riding head end of baggage car next to tender, where no door is placed; commonly called riding the blinds.
Blind Drivers Drivers without flanges which permit locomotives to take shaper curves than wheel arrangement would usually allow; widely used in narrow gauge.
Blind Siding A siding without telephone or telegraph connections to the dispatcher; no order can be received on it.
Blizzard Lights Originally the lights on either side of the headlight that served in emergency when the oil-burning headlight blew out. Now they indicate the train is nonscheduled or extra.
Block A length of track with defined limits on which train movements are governed by block signals, cab signals, or Form D.
Block Occupancy Indicator An indicator used to convey information regarding block occupancy.
Block Signal A fixed signal displayed to trains at the entrance of a block to govern use of that block.
Block System A system of railroad tracks divided into short sections or blocks, usually three or four miles in length, which will permit trains to be run by signal apparatus so that no train can enter a block until the preceding train has left it.
Block Truck Truck with equipment for repairing rail cars on the spot.
Blocking Device A lever, plug, ring, or other method of controlling that restricts the operation of a switch or signal. Blocking Device Applied (BDA). Blocking Device Removed (BDR).
Blood Old-time engine built by Manchester Locomotive Works. Mr. Aretas Blood being the builder's name.
Blow 'Er Down Reduce water in a locomotive boiler when carrying too much.
Blow Smoke Brag.
Blow Up 1) Use the blower to increase draft on the fire and thereby raise the steam pressure in the boiler. 2) To quit a job suddenly.
Blue Flag A blue flag or signal that is placed on a car or locomotive when workers are around or under it. When a car or locomotive is blue-flagged, then it must not be coupled to or moved in any manner. The only person allowed to remove a blue flag is the person who put it there in the first place.
Blue Goose A high-rail car used by management to get out of the office and look important.
Blue Signal A clearly distinguishable blue flag, blue light, or blue tag by day, or blue light or blue tag by night. When displayed, it signifies that workers are on, under, or between equipment.
BMT Brooklyn Manhattan Transit - subdivision B-1 of the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) subway system.
Bo Hobo. 'Bo chaser is freight brakeman or railroad policeman.
Board Fixed signal regulating railroad traffic, usually referred to as slow board., order board., clear board (for clear tracks) or red board (stop). Do not confuse this with extra board or spare board, colloquially known as slow board or starvation list, usually containing names of qualified train or enginemen not in regular active service who are called to work in emergencies. These names are listed in order of seniority, the man hired most recently being the last one called to service.
Bob Tail Haul An early slang expression indicating that a loco was only pulling a few cars and a bobber caboose; a short train.
Bobber A short four-wheeled caboose.
Bobtail Switch engine.
Body Shell Basic body section of vehicle without internal fittings.
Bogie The European term for truck (see truck).
Bogie (American Truck) Independent short wheel base truck with four or six wheels, capable of pivoting about the center at which it is attached to the under frame of long cars.
Boiler The part of a locomotive where steam is generated, Consisting essentially of a fire box surrounded by a water space in which the combustion of fuel takes place, and barrel containing the flue tubes surrounded by water.
Boiler Ascension Boiler explosion.
Boiler Header Man riding in engine cab.
Boiler Wash A high-water engineer.
Bolster A crosswise member of the frame of a car at the truck (body bolster), or the crosswise piece at the center of a truck (truck bolster).
Bolster Stop A device that, when properly installed, limits the lateral movement of a drawbar.
Bolt-Lock Switch A hand-operated switch equipped with a pipe connected locking device that is designed to shunt the signal system before the switch points are operated.
Book of Rules Set of rules which govern the standard procedure by which employees are required to perform their assigned duties.
Bookkeeper Trainman who makes out reports; flagman.
Boom Car The car next to the wrecking crane or derrick on which the crane boom is resting while traveling.
Boomer Drifter who went from one railroad job to another, staying but a short time on each job or each road. This term dates back to pioneer days when men followed boom camps. The opposite is home guard. Boomers should not be confused with tramps, although they occasionally became tramps. Boomers were railroad workers often in big demand because of their wide experience, sometimes blackballed because their tenure of stay was uncertain. Their common practice was to follow the "rushes" that is, to apply for seasonal jobs when and where they were most needed, when the movement of strawberry crops, watermelons, grain, etc., was making the railroads temporarily short-handed. There are virtually no boomers in North America today. When men are needed for seasonal jobs they are called from the extra board.
Booster A small secondary stream engine which assists and increases starting power. Some trailing trucks and tender wheels feature boosters which cut off automatically after a certain speed had been reached.
Bootlegger Train that runs over more than one railroad.
Bouncer Caboose.
Bowl The tracks in the Classification Yard where all of the cars are switched to after being humped.
Bowling Alley Hand-fired coal-burning locomotive. (A fireman throwing in the lumps of coal goes through motions that resemble bowling).
Box Cab Electric or diesel loco with a cab shaped like a box.
Boxcar A rectangular, fully enclosed freight car.
Boxcar Tourist Hobo.
Bradley Bar A device shaped like a hockey stick used to straighten hand holds on freight cars.
Brain Plate Trainman's cap or hat badge.
Brains or The Brains 1) Conductor; sometimes called brainless wonder. 2) A term applied to any train or engineman or official who does things his fellows consider queer.
Brake Beam A cross-piece in the foundation brake gear for a pair of wheels. From here, the leverage delivers its force through the attached brake head and brake shoes to the tread of the wheels.
Brake Club Three-foot hickory stick used by freight trainmen to tighten hand brakes. Sometimes called sap or staff of ignorance.
Brake Cylinder A cast metal cylinder with a piston that is forced outward by compressed air when the brakes are applied and returned by a release spring when the brakes are released.
Brake Cylinder Release Valve The valve that initially bleeds brake cylinder pressure. If held open, it will bleed auxiliary and emergency reservoir pressures.
Brake Pipe The pipe, hose, connections, angle cocks, cut-out cocks, fittings, etc., connecting the locomotive and all cars from one end of the train to the other for the passage of air to charge and control the brakes. Commonly called a train line.
Brake Pipe Gradient The difference in brake pipe pressure between the locomotive (or source of supply) and the rear car of the train.
Brake Rigging A term commonly used instead of foundation brake gear.
Brakeman Lowest member of the train crew. Does most ground work, collects tickets and 'bo money, unloads LCL, occasionally fires/runs engine, but never gets credit for anything extra. Also known as: Brakie, clown, ass't conductor, rag waver, trainman, shack, rear shack, hind shack, head-end man, snake, scissor-bill, ...
Brakes, Automatic Automatic brakes are the brake controls in the locomotive that regulate the pressure of the brake pipe and apply or release the brakes for the entire train including the locomotives.
Brakes, Independent Independent brakes are the brake controls in the locomotive that apply the brakes on the locomotives only. The air hose marked "ACT" or "BR CYL" enables the lead unit to control the trailing units brakes.
Brakes, Straight Air Brake controls configured to apply brakes on the loco or the entire train simply by adding air to the line. This is preferable when running light or on short trains where quick, frequent applications and reductions are needed.
Braking In a hump yard, rail mounted brakes are used to control speed of cars (see Retarders).
Branch A portion of a division designated by a timetable. Rules and instructions pertaining to subdivisions apply on branches.
Branch Line Minor line acting as a feeder to main trunk lines serving one or more stations beyond the point of junction with the main or another branch line.
Brass 1) Railroad executives and officials. Also called Brass Hat or Brass Collar. 2) A babbitt-lined blank of bronze that forms the bearing upon which the car rests. To brass a car is to replace one of those bearings.
Brass Buttons Passenger conductor on railroad or streetcar line.
Brass Hat Railroad official. Term may have originated from gold-braided collar of conductor's uniform and brass plate on his cap.
Brass Pounder Telegraph operator.
Breeze Service air.
Bridge Hog Bridge and building carpenter of the old school antedating steel and concrete.
Brigitte [SL] Class 363 C-C Alsthom electrics. Named after the famous French actress, because they are French, and at the time of their arrival they certainly were beauties, compared to other contemporary locomotives. Perhaps their extended nose had something to do with it, too
Bridge Line Haul Road See Overhead Line Haul Road.
Bridge traffic (Also called Bridge route or overhead route.) Freight which is delivered by one railroad to a second railroad for delivery to a third railroad.
Broken Knuckles Railroad sleeping quarters.
Broncos In The Canyon Motor vehicles, equipped with Hy-Rail attachments enabling them to ride on rails, operated by employees patrolling track during rain or snow. They look for slides, washouts and any unsafe track condition. Broncos operate just one mile ahead of trains under special rules and do not use track and time.
Brotherhood Notch On steam locomotives, a notch high on the reverse lever quadrant which admitted a very limited amount of steam to the cylinder making it easier on fireman, but taking longer to get over the road.
Brownies Demerits issued by the superintendent for an infraction of the rules; a certain number means suspension and a greater number may mean dismissal.
BRT Initials of Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen union.
Buck The Board Working the extra board. (See board.)
Buckle The Rubbers Connect air, steam, or signal hose.
Buff Force Compressive coupler forces that occur during a slack bunched condition.
Bug 1) Telegraph key. 2) A trainman's or switchman's light, also called bug torch. 3) A three-wheeled electric truck that carries mail and baggage around terminals.
Bug Line Telephone connection between engine house and yard or telegraph office.
Bug Slinger Switchman or brakeman.
Buggy Caboose.
Buggy Track Caboose track.
Building Trains Assembling sorted cars in proper sequence for outbound departure.
Bulk Train made up of a single "bulk" commodity (other than coal) and car type. Bulk commodities include grain, soda ash and ore.
Bulk Transfer The transfer of bulk products, such as plastic pellets or liquid sweeteners, from one mode of transportation to another. Bulk transfer permits off-rail shippers and receivers of various commodities to combine rail's long-haul efficiencies with truck's convenient door-to-door delivery.
Bull Railroad policeman. Also called flatfoot or gumshoe, but the distinctive railroad terms are cinder dick and 'bo chaser.
Bull Pen Crew room.
Bullet Piece of rail head chipped off by a spike maul when it glances off the rail head. Always wear safety glasses with side shields when working/watching track workers spiking!
Bulletin Order (BO) A publication used to notify employees of changes to rules, procedures, or other instructions affecting the movement of trains. BO's are issued periodically by the designated officer.
Bullgine Steam locomotive.
Bullhead A condition where both drawbar knuckles are closed, making the coupling impossible without opening one knuckle.
Bullnose 1) Front drawbar of a locomotive. 2) Term describing the styling of EMD E and F units.
Bump To displace a junior employee by the exercise of seniority rights.
Bumper Post at end of spur track, placed there to stop rolling stock from running onto the ground.
Bunch Of Thieves Wrecking crew.
Bungalow A small building usually situated near the rail that is used to house electrical and signaling equipment. It often contains a battery backup and may be heated.
Bunker 1) A bin, usually elevated, for storing coal. 2) Fuel-oil or coal space on an engine tender or tank engine.
Bust Up A Cut To separate the cars in a train, removing some that have reached their destination, assigning others to through trains, etc.
Butterfly Note thrown (or handed) from train by an official to a section foreman or other employee, so called because it may flutter along the track, although it is usually weighted down when thrown from a car.
Buzzards' Roost Yard office.