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C

CA Short for cyanoacrylate adhesive, also known as super glue. A high-strength adhesive that can be used on metal and styrene plastic.
Cab The section of the locomotive in which the controls are located and where the engineer and fireman rides.
Cab Control A method of controlling model trains in which one power pack is used for each train so the power pack can be connected to one set of blocks and remain disconnected from all others. A block is an electrically insulated zone of track. Only one engine or set of engines can be controlled in each block.
Cab Forward A steam locomotive with the engineer's cab placed ahead of the boiler instead of behind it for visibility in tunnels and snow sheds.
Cab Signal A signal that is located in the engine control compartment which indicate track occupancy or condition. The cab signal is used in conjunction with interlocking signals, and with or in lieu of block signals.
Cab Signaling Railroad signaling system to communicate with the train engineer.
Cab Signals Lights on a control panel in front of operator which indicate condition of track ahead of his train.
Caboose A car, usually placed at the end of a freight train, in which the conductor has an office and living quarters. With increasing use of computer controls, cabooses are being replaced with ETD (End of Train Device) Also known as bobber, brain box, bouncer, buggy, cabin, cage, chariot, crummy, hack, palace, van, brake van (UK), and way car. Plural is cabooses, NOT "cabeese"!
Caboose Bounce, Caboose Hop Early term for a train composed only of an engine and caboose.
Caboose Valve A rotary valve providing the means for making a controlled rate of brake pipe reduction. Enables service or emergency applications from the caboose.
Caboose Way Car A caboose with a section for freight.
Cage Caboose.
Call Boys, Caller A boy, or man, whose whose duty is to summon train or engine crews or announce trains.
Calliope Steam locomotive.
Camelback A type of steam locomotive with the cab astride the boiler. The Camelback was a solution to the problem of forward visibility past the wide firebox required for burning anthracite. Also called a "Mother Hubbard."
Camp Car Any on-track vehicle, except a wreck train, that is used to house railroad employees.
Can Tank car.
Canadian Girl [SL] Class 661-4 GM G16 C-C diesels. So called because they were made in London, Ontario.
Canned Discharged or dismissed from service.
Cant Amount by which one rail of a curved track is raised above the other. Cant is 'positive' when the outer rail is higher than the inner rail and 'negative' when the inner rail is higher than the outer. Also known as "super elevation".
Cant Hook Hand tool for moving logs or ties by leverage.
Cap A torpedo put on the tracks for signaling purposes.
Captain Conductor; often called skipper. This title dates from Civil War days when some railroads were run by the Army and the conductor was in many cases a captain.
Car An American term for carriage or wagon.
Car Barn Storage house for trolley and interurban cars.
Car Knocker Car inspector or car repairer from the early custom of tapping the wheels to detect flaws. Also called car whacker, car toad (because he squats while inspecting), car tink, and car tonk.
Car Set Out Bad order in a train that has a mechanical defect and must be "set out" on line for repairs by mechanical road truck.
Car Shop Repair Track Area One or more tracks within an area in which the testing, servicing, repairing, inspecting, or rebuilding of cars is under the exclusive control of mechanical department personnel.
Car Toad, Car Tonk Car inspector who checked the condition freight and passenger cars and conducted the air brake tests.
Car Catcher Rear brakeman.
Card Credentials showing Brotherhood or Union membership.
Carhouse Car Covered cement car.
Carload A shipment of no less than five tons of one commodity.
Carman Formal name for a craft employee that inspects and repairs railway cars.
Carry A White Feather Show a plume of steam over the safety valves of the engine.
Carrying Green Train whose engine displays green flags by day or green lights by night to indicate that a second section is following closely. Carrying white in the same manner signifies an extra train.
Carrying The Banner 1) Flagging. 2) The wearing of ostentatious Brotherhood emblems, frequently done by 'bos in working the main stem for a handout.
Carrying The Mail Bringing train orders.
Car Seal Hawk Railroad policeman.
Casey Jones Any locomotive engineer, especially a fast one. Name derived from John Luther (Casey) Jones.
Catenary Overhead trolley wire system for locomotives and cars that use pantographs or trolley poles for current collection.
Catwalk Plank walk on top of boxcars; sometimes called the deck from which comes the word deckorate
CCR Central Control Room, a facility from which rail system operation will be monitored and controlled.
Centipede 1) Name for an electric or diesel locomotive with more than eight axles, notably Baldwin's 12-axle PRR diesels. 2) Centipede Tanks were large loco tenders with several axles in a rigid frame.
Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) A remotely controlled block signal system under which train movements are authorized by block signals whose indicators supersede the superiority of trains.
Chain Gang When a number of extra trains (not regularly scheduled freight runs) are put into service, regular crews may be assigned to take such trains in turn. When this occurs, train crews are said to be operating in chain gang service.
Chambermaid Machinist in roundhouse.
Chariot Caboose, or general manager's car.
Chasing The Red Flagman going back with red flag or light to protect his train.
Chassis Framework or underbody of a locomotive, or cars.
Checker A company spy, particularly one checking up on loss of materials or of the receipts of an agent or conductor.
Cherry Picker 1) Switchman, so called because of red lights on switch stands. 2) Any railroad man who is always figuring on the best jobs and sidestepping undesirable ones (based on the old allusion, "Life is a bowl of cherries").
Chew Cinders Engines do this when reversed while running and while working quite a bit of steam.
Chimney [UK] Exhaust stack.
Chip Pies Narrow-gauge cars.
Cinder Cruncher Switchman or flagman.
Cinder Dick Railroad policeman or detective.
Cinder Pit An ash pit.
Cinder Skipper A yard clerk.
Cinder Snapper Passenger who rides open platforms on observation car.
Circuit The path of an electrical current.
Circuit Breaker A switch or fuse that automatically opens the circuit in the event of a current overload.
Circus Railroad.
Class Groups into which trains are divided, from two to four, depending on the railroad.
Class 1 Railroad A railroad line with annual revenues in excess of a figure set by the Interstate Commerce Commission, adjusted annually for inflation. Class II railroads are those with revenues less than the figure set by the Interstate Commerce Commission. The third classification is Switching and Terminal railroads.
Class Rating FRA rating for sections of railroads in the USA
Rating Speed Allowed (MPH)
Class 1 10
Class 2 20
Class 3 30
Class 4 50
Class 5 60
Class 6 80
Classification Lights Lights on the front of the locomotive that indicate the type of train. White lights show that the train is an extra, and green indicates that another section of the train is following.
Classification Tracks A system of tracks designed to facilitate classification switching by providing for the arrangement of freight cars according to their kinds, contents and destinations.
Classification Yard A freight yard where trains are broken up and made up by shifting cars with a switcher locomotive or by a hump.
Claw Clinker hook used by fireman.
CLC Complete Locomotive Control, retrofitted adhesion system manufactured by Woodward Governor Company.
Clear Block 1) An unoccupied block. 2) A term used to denote a clear signal indication.
Clear Board A green or proceed signal.
Clear Signal Fixed signal displaying a green, or proceed without restriction indication.
Clear Crossing A track clear system that signals when a roadway crossing is clear of a train.
Clearance Card Authority to use main line.
Clerestory Roof Typical of certain passenger cars featuring raised center sections and "clerestory windows" along the sides.
Climax A type of geared steam locomotive used primarily by logging railroads. The two cylinders drive a jackshaft parallel with the axles.
Clock 1) Steam gauge. (See wiping the clock). 2) A fare register.
Clown Switchman or yard brakeman. Clown wagon is caboose.
Club Same as brake club. Club winder is switchman or brakeman. A brakeman's club was usually his only weapon of defense against hoboes.
Coal Bunker Storage bin directly behind cab or in the tender.
Coal Heaver Fireman, sometimes called stoker.
Coaling Station A structure for storing coal and transferring it into locomotive tenders.
Cock Loft Cupola of a caboose. Also called crow's nest.
COFC Container on flat car. Referred to in intermodal traffic.
Coffee Respite period enjoyed by baggage men while awaiting arrival of the next train. Also called spot.
Coffeepot Little, old, steam locomotive.
Cog Railroad A railroad that can climb steep grades by using a toothed cog wheel between the driving wheels of the locomotive that meshes with the teeth of a rack rail that is mounted to the cross ties between the other rails. Also called Rack Railroad.
Collar And Elbow Joint Boardinghouse. (There isn't too much room at dinner table)
Color Blind Employee who can't distinguish between his own money and the company's.
Color Light Signal A fixed signal in which the indications are given only by the color of a light.
Color Position Light Signal A fixed signal in which the indications are given by color and position of two or more lights.
Command Control A way of controlling model trains by sending electronic messages through the rails. Each locomotive has a decoder or receiver which only responds to the messages specifically directed to it. Engines can be controlled independently anywhere on a layout.
Common Carrier A railroad or other carrier that carries any passengers or freight and not just contract passengers or freight from one customer.
Company Bible Book of rules.
Company Jewelry Trainman's hat, badge, and switch keys.
Company Notch Forward corner of the reverse gear quadrant. It is called the company notch because an engine exerts full pulling power when worked with a full stroke. Also known as the Wall Street Notch.
Compensation The practice of easing grades when building curved track, so that the friction plus grade equals the intended maximum grade effect.
Compensating Bars Splice bars for joining different sized rail, say 65# to 80#.
Compound Engine A steam engine in which the exhausted steam is directed into a second set of cylinders.
Computer Controlled Brake (CCB) A computer based electro-pneumatic system that controls air brakes on locomotives and cars.
Conductor (Cndr) A crew member on a freight or passenger train in charge of the train at all stops or while the train is at terminals or stations and who's primary duty does not include operation of the train. The conductor is required to inspect the train if a detector is tripped.
Conductor and Engineer (C&E) The abbreviation is used as the designation of a recipient on Train Orders or on other forms governing train movement.
Consist The cars which make up a train, also a list of those cars. Locomotive consist is a group of engines put together to pull a train.
Consol Consolidation type (2-8-0) locomotive.
Container A large, weatherproof box designed for shipping freight in bulk by rail, truck or ship.
Continuous Rail Rails which have been welded together to form a single rail hundreds of feet long. The purpose of continuous rails is to eliminate most rail joints. Also called ribbonrail, welded rail.
Control Operator Employee assigned to operate a CTC or interlocking control machine or authorized to grant track permits.
Control Station The Dispatcher's office, or the location where the Operator is on duty, from which remote control signal appliances or switched are operated.
Controlled Point (CP) A location designated by a name or a number where signals and/or switches of a CTC system are controlled by a control operator.
Controlled Siding (CS) A circuited siding within CTC or interlocking limits in which both ends are controlled and governed by signals under the control of a Dispatcher or Operator.
Controlled Signal A fixed signal, the aspect of which, is controlled by a control operator.
Controlled Tractive Effort. (CTE) A computer software package that gives the crew the ability to reduce the tractive effort of a locomotive for use in distributed power situations. The reduced tractive effort reduces the possibility of the helpers from pushing to hard and derailing the train.
Converter A device for converting electric power from alternating current to direct current or vice versa.
Cooker Fireless steam or air loco. Usually used in mine or other short-run industrial site where the tank can be charged often. AKA Thermos bottle. See Fireless Locomotive.
Cool A Spindle Cool a hotbox by replacing the brass or putting water on the bearing.
Coon It Crawl.
Cornfield Meet Slang for head-on collision.
Cornered When a car, not in the clear on a siding, is struck by a train or engine.
Corridor Train [UK] A train made up of "corridor cars". This was the standard for longer journeys, as washrooms and a buffet-diner were thus accessible.
COT&S Clean, Oil, Test & Stencil. Applies to air brake rework.
Couldn't Pull A Setting Hen Off Her Nest Derogatory description of old-fashioned locomotive.
Counting The Ties Reducing speed.
Coupler The device used to connect and disconnect locomotives and cars.
Coupling The connection of two rail cars, or locomotives.
Covered Wagon A nickname that is generally attached to EMD E and F units.
Cow Cage Stock car. Also called cow crate.
Cowcatcher An early term for the pointed device used on the front of the locomotive to remove deer, cows and buffalo off the track.
Cowl Unit A diesel unit that looks like a cab unit, but the car body is only a full-width shroud rather than a structural part of the unit.
Cradle Gondola or other open-top car.
Craftsman Kits These kits are detailed building kits for experienced modelers. They usually include detailed drawings, strip wood, plastic and metal castings, along with other details.
Crankpin Pin or screw attached to driving wheels hold side rods in place yet permits them to turn.
Creeper See Rail anchor.
Crew The men and women who run a train.
Crews Are Tight Sufficient crews are available, but rest issues may cause delays to calls.
Crews Short Not enough crews are available to protect scheduled out bounds and any deadheads/dogcatch events.
Crib Caboose.
Cribbing A framework of wooden timbers, steel, or concrete that acts as a retaining wall for loose rock, or dirt.
Cripple See Bad Order.
Critter A small industrial locomotive.
Croaker Company doctor.
Crossing 1) A length of track that carries one track across another, but does not allow trains to move from one track to another. 2) where a track and a road cross each other at the same level.
Crossover A combination of two switches connecting two adjacent tracks. When lined, the switch combination allows movements to cross from one track to the other.
Crowning Him Coupling a caboose on a freight train when it is made up.
Crown Sheet The roof of the firebox in a steam locomotive. Most of the steam is generated over the crown sheet.
Crows Nest The cupola or box-like structure raised above the roof of a caboose from which a trainman may see along the train while it is in motion.
Crumb Boss Man in charge of camp cars.
Crummy Slang for caboose; also called a doghouse.
CTC Centralized Traffic Control, the direct control of all turnouts and signals on a stretch of railroad by a single dispatcher.
CTC Outage When track signals (Centralized Traffic Control) are disabled and do not allow signals to be displayed for trains.
CTE Controlled Tractive Effort. A computer software package that gives the crew the ability to reduce the tractive effort of a locomotive for use in distributed power situations. The reduced tractive effort reduces the possibility of the helpers from pushing to hard and derailing the train.
Culvert A passage way under tracks for drainage of water.
Cupola Small cabin atop the caboose.
Curfew A time period scheduled in advance when no trains operate, allowing maintenance employees to work on track or signals.
Current Rate of flow of electricity within an electrical circuit.
Current of Traffic The movement of trains on a main track, in one direction, specified by the rules.
Curve Classified as:
Simple One radius throughout.
Compound Two or more simple curves of similar radius.
Reverse A compound curve of opposite directions.
Cushions Passenger cars. Cushion rider may be either a passenger or member of passenger-train crew.
Cut 1) That part of the right-of-way which is excavated out of a hill or mountain instead of running up over it or being tunneled through it. 2) To separate car(s) from a train.
Cut of Cars A number of cars coupled together. The addition of marker lamps makes the cut of cars a train.
Cut Off Describes the valve setting in steam power for various operating conditions.
Cut the Board Lay off the most recently hired men on the extra list.
Cycle Braking The process of applying, releasing, and reapplying train brakes to control speed without completely recharging the train brake system.
Cycle Time The length of time consumed by a freight car from one loading to the next.