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D

Dancing On The Carpet Called to an official's office for investigation or discipline.
Dark Territory A series of rail miles ungoverned by signals and unable to transmit or receive radio or cellular phone signals.
Date Nail A small nail used by railroads from late 1800's to present used to mark the year a tie was placed in roadbed. Nails are distinctive in that each has the last two digits of placement year stamped in head. Usually found within six inches of tie end, but some are located mid tie to allow easier inspection. Rarer nails value in 100's of dollar range to collectors.
Dead Engine Device (DED) A device near the locomotive control valve used when a locomotive unit is handled dead-in-train (hauled like a car).
Dead Head 1) A car or train, usually passenger, moving empty. 2) A railroad employee traveling on a pass.
Dead Heading Traveling from one point to another by an employee who has received orders for such travel from his supervisor. The employee performs no service in such travel status, and he/she is paid for his/her time while in travel at an hourly "dead head" rate.
Dead Iron and Live Iron The two sets of tracks on a scale.
Dead Man's Control Device requiring pressure by the engineer to keep train brakes from being automatically applied. This was to detect sleeping or dead engineers.
Dead Man's Hole Dead Man's Hole  A method of righting an overturned engine or car using a rope and chain system attached to a large buried plank.
Deadend Short section running line terminating at buffer stops.
Dead In Train Hauling locomotive(s) in a train without the MU cables coupled and cut in.
Decal A picture, design, or label made to be transferred from specially prepared paper. Used on both models and prototypes.
Deck Front part of engine cab. Also catwalk on roofs of boxcars.
Decorate In the days before air brakes, the duties of the brakemen included stopping the train. The brakeman would have to go to the top deck of the car thus decorate and wind the stem winder.
Dehorned Demoted or discharged.
Delayer Train dispatcher.
Demurrage Tariff charges assessed for detaining freight cars beyond their specified time limit.
Departure Yard An arrangement of yard tracks from which cars are forwarded.
Derail To leave the rails. Also a track safety device designed to guide a car off the rails at a selected spot as a means of protection against collisions or other accidents.
De-rating Modifications made to a locomotive which allows only a portion of the avalible horsepower to be used. This usually will result in cost savings in fuel and maintenance.
Detainer Train dispatcher.
Diagram Display in schematic form of track-work and signals controlled by a signalbox. The display could provide illuminated indications of signal and point operation, train positions, and descriptions.
Diamond When two railroad tracks cross on the same level, the point at which they cross is called a diamond.
Diamond Cracker or Diamond Pusher Locomotive fireman.
Diamond Stack A tall smokestack with a spark arrestor on top, was widely used on old wood-burning locomotives. It had a diamond shaped top.
Die Game Stall on a hill.
Diecast A casting process used to manufacture some products for model railroading, where molten metal is forced into the mold under pressure.
Diesel 1) Compression ignition, internal combustion engine. 2) Locomotive powered by diesel engines, usually as diesel-electric.
Ding-Dong Gas or gas-electric coach, usually used on small roads or branch lines not important enough to support regular trains. It's name is derived from sound of its bell. Sometimes called doodlebug.
Dinger A yardmaster.
Dinky Any small, undersized locomotive. Also a four-wheel trolley car.
Diorama Small highly detailed scene. A proof of concept model. A display model. Sometimes built to learn new modeling techniques in a short period of time.
Diploma Clearance or service letter. Also a fake service letter.
Direct Current (DC) Electrical current which flows only in one direction.
Direct Drive A system of power transmission in which there is a direct connection between the engine or motor and the driving wheels.
Dirty Car Storage car containing a varied assortment of mail and parcels that demand extra work in separating.
Dishwashers Engine wipers at roundhouse.
Dispatcher A railroad employee who coordinates all train movements, usually within one division; he may issue specific orders to keep traffic moving.
Dispatcher (Dspr) The person in charge of all movements with their designated region. The dispatcher is also in charge of issuing Form D's.
Distant Signal A fixed signal outside of a block system, used to govern the approach to a block signal, interlocking signal or switch point indicator. It will not convey information on conditions affecting the use of the track between the distant signal and block signal, interlocking signal or switch point indicator to which approach is governed. Identified by a "D" marker.
Distribution Center A centrally located warehouse where goods shipped long distances by rail are loaded onto trucks for short-haul delivery to receivers, or vice versa. Also called a reload center, it combines the economies of rail with the flexibility of truck pickup and delivery.
Disturbed Track A section of passable track that has a temporary speed restriction imposed because various defects or track maintenance has affected the integrity of the track.
Ditch That part of the right-of-way that is lower than the roadbed. A derailed train is "in the ditch".
Ditch Lights On a road locomotive, auxiliary headlights mounted near the outer ends of the pilot beam.
Division A portion of the railroad designated by it own timetable and having its own management structure. Headed by a superintendent under whose direction the three essential functions coming under "operations" are carried out. These functions are the maintenance of way and structures, maintenance of equipment, and transportation of freight and passengers.
Division Notice (DN) A publication issued periodically by the designated officer, which contains instructions or information which do not affect the movement of trains.
Dog bone Model railroad arrangement consisting of two reversing loops connected together. Also known as" Dumb Bell".
Dog Law Hours-of-service rule. See Hog Law.
Dogcatcher or Dogcatch Crew Relief crew sent out to bring in a train when the original crew make it from terminal to terminal in the allotted 12 hours (hours of service law). Rails refer to a train that can't make it in as a "dog".
Dogcock A device used in unison with a clawbar to pull spikes from the wing rails of a frog and also from the guardrail.
Doghouse Caboose or its cupola. Also the brakeman's shelter built on the ends of some tenders.
Dollyflopper A brakeman or switchtender - someone who throws switches.
Dome The bulges on top of steam locos holding steam and sand. Also, the all-glass top of streamline-era passenger cars (Budd domes, Pullman Standard "Vista Domes" and ACF full domes). Current Amtrak Superliner and older former ATSF lounges are NOT domes.
Donegan Old car, with wheels removed, used as residence or office. Originated about 1900, when a Jersey Central carpenter and two foremen, all named Donegan, occupied three shacks in the same vicinity. People were directed to the Donegans so often that the shacks themselves came to be known by that name. The name stuck, even after the men had passed on and the shacks had been replaced by converted old cars.
Donkey 1) Derisive term for section man. 2) A small auxiliary engine.
Doodlebug Gas or gas-electric coach, usually used on small roads or branch lines not important enough to support regular trains.
Doorslammer Slang for a passenger trainman. Usually used by freight trainmen who are adept at station switching, and all the other skills needed in general freight service.
Dope 1) Order, official instructions, explanation. 2) A composition for cooling hot journals.
Dope It Use compound in the water to keep it from boiling when working an engine hard.
Dope Monkey Car inspector.
Double Slip Switch A switch that combines the functions of a crossing and turnouts to allow any one of four routings. Used only where space is limited.
Double Stack A special railroad car where containers are stacked two high.
Double Stack Containers Containers that can be stacked one atop another.
Double Track (DT) Two main tracks, on one of which the current of traffic is in a specified direction, and on the other in the opposite direction.
Doublehead Power a train with two locos.
Doubleheader A train pulled by two locomotives, each with its own engine crew, as opposed to diesel or electric locomotive units operating as a single locomotive with one crew.
Doublespiking Two track workers driving the same spike at the same time by swinging from opposite sides of the rail.
Doubling a Hill In going up a hill, to cut the train in half and take each section up separately.
Douse The Glim Extinguish a lantern, especially by a sudden upward movement.
Down Grade American term for a down-hill grade.
Dozer Bulldozer operator.
DPDT Double pole, Double Throw. This is a special switch which is used on model railroads to allow you to change the polarity of the current for reverse loops, or complex block control.
DPU Stands for Distributed Power Unit, a locomotive set capable of remote-control operation in conjunction with locomotive units at the train's head end. DPUs are placed in the middle or at the rear of heavy trains to help climb steep grades, particularly in the West.
Draft Force Pulling force (tension) on couplers and draft gear during a slack-stretched condition.
Draft Gear The mechanism which connects the coupler to the frame of the car. In the model world, draft gears also refers to the coupler mounting box.
Drag A common expression to describe the movement of a heavy train, such as a coal drag or an ore drag.
Dragging Equipment Detector Electronic trackside detection system that identifies unusual conditions, such as brake rigging down, lading down or dragging alongside car, and chains or straps on flat cars along the ground.
Draw Bar Forces The longitudinal forces at the couplers between cars or locomotives. The forces may be draft or buff, depending on train operation.
Drawbar Any coupling, either a solid bar or couplers, between two pieces of rolling stock.
Drawbar Flagging Flagman leaning against the drawbar on the caboose, or standing near the caboose, to protect the rear end of his train, instead of going back "a sufficient distance" as rules require. Such a man is taking a chance, due maybe to laziness, exhaustion, severe cold, fear of the train leaving without him, etc.
Drawbar Horsepower The total horsepower of a locomotive less the amount of horsepower that it takes to move the locomotive itself, the balance being available to pull the load.
Drift Operate loco without power.
Drifting Throttle Running with steam throttle cracked open to keep air and dust from being sucked into steam cylinders.
Drill To switch cars in a yard.
Drill Crew Yard crew.
Drill Track A track connecting with the ladder track, over which locomotives and cars move back and forth in switching.
Drink Water for locomotive.
Drive Transmission of power.
Driving Gear The group of rods and cranks which transfer the piston energy to the driving wheels.
Driving Wheels The large wheels of a steam locomotive connected by rods. And the motorized wheels on electric or diesel locomotives.
Drone Cage Private car.
Drop Switching operation where cars are uncoupled from moving train and allowed to drift to desired location. See Flying Switch
Drop A Little Run-Fast Oil the engine.
Drop 'Er Down Pull reverse lever forward. Drop 'er in the corner means to make fast time, figuratively dropping the Johnson bar in one corner of the cab.
Drop Side Type of gondola where the vertical side is hinged horizontally and can be lowered to facilitate loading and unloading.
Dropper Switchman riding a car on a switching operation.
Drovers' Caboose A long eight-wheeled caboose containing a small passenger compartment for hauling and bedding down cattlemen who are aboard to care for their cattle reroute.
Drowning It Out Cooling an overheated journal.
Drummer 1) Yard conductor. 2) Traveling salesman. Drummers were significant revenue for local trains all over North America.
Drunkard Late Saturday-night passenger train.
Dry Brush A modeling technique where a paint brush is used to accent highlights of a model. This is accomplished by using a light color paint and first removing most of the paint on a paper towel. You then drag the brush across the models surface leaving small amounts of paint on the highlights.
Dry Transfer A lettering process used in modeling, in which the letter itself is a thin plastic film with a pressure-sensitive wax adhesive.
Dual Control Switch A power-operated switch, also equipped for hand operation.
Dual Gauge Track able to accommodate trains of two different wheel gauges. Usually achieved by the laying of a third length of rail, one being common to both gauges.
Ducats Passenger conductor's hat checks.
Duckunder An area on a layout where you must bend down and go under the bench work to gain access to another part of the layout.
Dude Passenger conductor.
Dude Wrangler Passenger brakeman.
Dumb Bell Model layout arrangement consisting of two reversing loops connected together. Also known as" Dog Bone".
Dummy 1) Employees' train. 2) A switcher type locomotive having the boiler and running gear entirely housed, used occasionally for service in public streets. 3) A small auxiliary signal used to control unusual movements such as a set back into a yard from a main line. Implies a complete stop and wait for a manual operation from the panel. Usually ground mounted lens with two whites for proceed and red/white for stop. 4) [MR] An un-powered locomotive. 5) One who takes on a glossary project of this size.
Dump the air Emergency application of the air brakes causing a train to stop abruptly, usually causing damage to the merchandise being carried or to the train equipment, itself.
Dusting Her Out Putting sand through the fire door of an oil burner while working the engine hard; this cuts out the soot in the flues and makes the locomotive steam. Also known as giving the old girl a dose of salts.
Dust Raiser Fireman (shoveling coal into firebox).
Dutch Clock Speed recorder.
Dutch Drop Rarely used method of bringing a car onto the main line from a spur. The engine heads into the spur, couples head-on to the car, and backs out. When the car is moving fast enough the engine is cut off, speeds up to get back on the main line before the car, then moves forward ahead of the junction between the main line and the spur so the car rolls out behind the engine.
Dutchman A short section of brake hose with a coupling (glad hand) on each end. It's used to connect two short hoses together.
Dwarf Signal Two or three lens signal used to control a move over a switch in a yard. Usually mounted low to the ground.
Dwarf Stand A low-level switch stand, such as the UP #5 stand. Not popular with trainman, since they're hard to see when unloading in bad weather.
Dynamic Braking A method of train braking where the kinetic energy from the train movement generates current at the locomotive traction motors, and is dissipated in a resistor grid on the locomotive.
Dynamite Initiation of an emergency application.
Dynamiter A triple valve in defective order which throws air brakes into emergency when only a service application is intended. Also called a kicker.
Dynamiting Emergency stop, all wheels lock up.