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F

Facing Point Lock A locking device which automatically locks the switch points of a spring switch in normal position.
Facing Switch A turnout or switch with the points facing traffic.
False Gradient The temporary air-pressure gradient that exists when the brake system is less than fully charged (for example, the exaggerated difference between the head end and rear end after a release).
Family Disturber Pay car or pay train.
Fan Blower on a locomotive boiler.
Feed Back The result when separate circuits are so wired that some of the current from one circuit bleeds into the other circuit.
Feeder 1) A short branch road feeding traffic to a mainline. 2) [MR] Power connection from the power pack to track and elsewhere on model railroad.
Feedwater Heater A device that uses exhaust steam to preheat water before injection to the boiler.
Ferroequinology "Study of the Iron Horse" ie: railfanning.
Fiddle Yard A modeling term for a set of sidings where trains are terminated and stored. Also used as a staging yard where a modeler adds or removes equipment from a layout by hand.
Field Classification yard.
Fielder or Field Man Yard brakeman.
Figurehead Timekeeper.
Fill Earth or rock, used to make a level roadbed across a valley or depression. In undulating terrain, successive cuts and fills are common. The material removed from a cut is used to construct the adjacent fill.
Fire Boy Locomotive fireman.
Firebox The section of a steam locomotive boiler in which fuel is burned.
Fireman Maintains the fire, water, fuel, lubricants, sand, etc. on a steam engine. On a diesel he services the motor. May occasionally run the engine. Not the same as Amtrak's current "ass't engineer", who is primarily an on-board mechanic and relief engineer.
Fireless Locomotive A steam locomotive for use in chemical and munitions plants. These locomotives had a large insulated steam reservoir, instead of a firebox and boiler. This was charged with steam from a stationary boiler in a safe location.
First Generation Diesels The first diesel locomotives to replace steam locomotives. Usually refers to the standardized EMD, Alco, Baldwin and F-M units supplied between the late 1930's and early 1950's.
First Reader Conductor's train book.
Fish Wagon Gas-electric car or other motorcar equipped with an air horn (which sounds like a fishmonger's horn).
Fishplate Short pieces of steel used to join track sections to other sections or track structures. An angle bar is placed on each side of the sections being joined. Holes are drilled into each end of the angle bar and also through both track sections. Bolts with locking washers are fastened through the holes to join the sections.
Fishtail Semaphore blade, so called from its peculiar shape.
Fist 1) The style used by a telegrapher when sending messages. 2) A telegraph operator's handwriting. This script, in the days before telephones, typewriters, and teletypes, was characterized by its swiftness, its bold flowing curves which connected one word with another, and its legibility. Ops were proud of their penmanship.
Fixed Man Switchman in a hump yard assigned to one certain post from which he rides cars being humped.
Fixed Signal A signal at a fixed location that affects the movement of a train.
Flag 1) To protect the rear of the train by having a brakeman walk back with a flag while it is stopped. 2) An assumed name. Many a boomer worked under a flag when his own name was black-listed.
Flagman Usually, the brakeman assigned to duties at the rear end of the train.
Flange The part of the wheel which runs below and inside the top of the rails to guide the wheel.
Flange Detection Detection of rail wheel presence by sensing flange (proximity, biased Hall or biased reed switch).
Flare See Fusee
Flash A thin material that has oozed from the mold during the molding process and remains attached to the finished casting.
Flat Wheel 1) Car wheel that has flat spots on the tread. 2) Slang for an employee who limps.
Flatcar A freight car with only a flat deck and no side rails or walls.
Flextrack Flexible sections of track used on a layout. In "HO" it usually comes in straight, three-foot long sections which can be bent as needed. Larger Flex Track such as large scale "G" need to be bent with a rail bender before it is assembled. Other kinds of track are sectional (rigid pieces of straight and curved track that come with train sets) and hand laid (built with handmade ties, rail, and spikes).
Flimsy Train order. (Standard practice is to issue these on tissue paper to facilitate the making of carbon copies).
Flip To board a moving train. The word accurately suggests the motion used.
Floater Same as boomer.
Fly Light Miss a meal. Boomers often did that; hoboes still do.
Flying Switch Switching technique in which the engine pulls away from a car or cars it has started rolling, permitting them to be switched onto a track other than that taken by the engine. The switch is thrown instantly after the engine has passed it and just before the cars reach it. This procedure, common in bygone days, is now frowned upon by officials. The procedure is as follows.
1. Stop train several yards from the switch.
2. Uncouple car to be dropped from the main part of the train.
3. Dump air from the car to be dropped, releasing brakes.
4. Brakeman #1 rides the car to be dropped, and brakeman #2 operates the switch.
5. Pull car towards switch. Let off throttle just prior to reaching the switch the so that brakeman #1 can uncouple the car.
6. Engine pulls away from the rolling car so that brakeman #2 can throw the switch allowing car to enter the siding.
7. Brakeman #1 rides car into siding and uses hand brake to spot the car.
Foamer Railfan that behaves unsafely on or near RoW. Probably also a FOMOR.
Fog Steam.
FOMOR Foreign Object Meandering On Right-of-way, such as a cow, trespasser, foamer railfan, etc.
Footboard The step on the rear and front ends of switch or freight engines. Many casualties were caused in the "good old days" by switchmen missing these steps on dark slippery nights.
Footboard Yard Master Conductor who acts as yardmaster in a small yard.
Footplate Deck, Cab floor, operating platform of steam locomotive.
Forced Perspective A modeling technique that gives the impression that there are more buildings in a scene than are really possible. This is accomplished by making the buildings in the background smaller to give the impression that they are further away.
Foreign Car A car that belongs to some other railroad other than the one it is running on.
Foreman (Frm) A person who is in charge of a Roadway Crew. A Frm is authorized to control train traffic through a section of trackage which has been designated by Form D as obstructed for maintenance.
Form D A form used in receiving written permission to occupy track in DCS sections of railroad lines. Permission is given by Train Dispatcher or Operator.
FORM D Control System (DCS) A block system, signaled or non-signalled, in which the movement of trains outside of yard limits is authorized by Form D.
Forty Five Yellow signal or semaphore at 45 degrees. Train may proceed through signal, prepared to stop.
Fountain That part of a locomotive where steam issues from the boiler and flows into pipes for lubrication, injection, etc.
Frame The foundation of chassis on which a locomotive is constructed.
FRED Flashing Rear End Device  See EOT Device.
Free-lance Modeling that does not closely follow a prototype railroad.
Freeze A Hob or A Blazer Cool a heated journal.
Freezer A refrigerator car. Also referred to as a "reefer".
Freight (Frt) Any type of consist other than persons which makes up the load of a train.
Freight Yard A group of tracks used for storage, sorting and classification of freight cars.
Frequency (Hertz / Hz) The number of times per second an alternating current reverses its direction.
Frog 1) The portion of a switch which is grooved for the wheel flanges named for its resemblance to a frog. Frogs guide wheels from one track structure to another. Also a type of rail crossing allowing two sets of running rails to cross each other at grade level at an angle of less than 90 degrees. 2) An implement to re-rail car wheels.
Frog Number The ratio of the length of the tangent track to an equal unit of space between the tangent track and a point on the branch track. For example #6 frog is a 1 in 6 ratio.
Full Service Application Reducing the brake pipe pressure at a service rate until the reservoir and cylinder pressures equalize.
Fusee Warning device consisting of a cardboard tube filled with a combustible mixture of chemicals that burns brightly when ignited (red, yellow or green) and remains burning for ten to fifteen minutes as warning signals to other trains when touched off and placed or thrown on the ground by train service employees. . Fusees are ignited and dropped on the right of way to indicate to a following train the presence of stopped or slow-moving equipment ahead. No following train may pass as long as it is burning, although on some roads it is permissible to stop, extinguish the fusee, and proceed with caution in automatic block-signal limits.