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P

Packing Maintaining the correct level of sleepers by adjustments in the amount of ballast beneath.
Paddle Semaphore signal
Paddle Wheel Narrow-gauge locomotive with driving boxes outside of the wheels
Pair Of Pliers Conductor's punch
Paired Track When two railroads own single track lines, they may reach an agreement whereby one railroad's track services both roads in one direction, while the other railroad's track services both roads in the other direction.
Palace Caboose.
Panel Desk Board on which operating switches for points and signals are mounted.
Panorama A background picture that gives a wide sweeping view in all directions when seen from a central point.
Pantograph A collapsible and adjustable structure mounted on the roof of an electric locomotive or powered car which comes into contact with an overhead wire for picking up and transmitting electric power to the motors.
Paper Car 1)Baggage car for the transportation of newspapers exclusively. 2) A "clean lading only" boxcar used for shipping paper products.
Paperweight Railroad clerk, office worker. Also called pencil pusher.
Paper Wheel A passenger car wheel type, c. 1900, that had a steel hub and tire. The web of the wheel was made of tightly wound paper, in an effort to provide smooth riding.
Parlor Caboose. Parlor man or parlor maid is hind brakeman or flagman on freight train.
Parlor Car Luxuriously fitted railway car.
Partial Service Application Reducing the brake pipe pressure at a service rate but not enough to cause the reservoir and cylinder pressure to equalize.
Passenger (Psgr) A person other than crew which is being transported by a train. Also, is a designation given to any train whose primary consist is people.
Passing Siding A siding specifically for passing of trains in the same or opposite direction. It may be several miles long so that neither train is required to stop.
Passing The Croaker Being examined by company doctor.
Peaked End Head end of train.
Peanut Roaster Any small steam engine.
Peck Twenty minutes allowed for lunch.
Peddler Local freight train.
Peg See Token.
Pelican Pond Place outside a roundhouse (down South) where there is much ooze and slime, caused by the fact that many locomotives are run thirty days without the boilers being washed out. The boilers are kept clean by blowing them out with blowoff cocks.
Pendular Suspension A suspension system allowing the body of the vehicle to tilt on curves allowing greater speed.
Pennsylvania Coal.
Per Diem 1) An amount paid to railroad employees for daily expenses when working away from their home base. 2) An amount paid by one railroad to another for the rental of freight cars owned by the other.
Permanent Way [UK] Term for track-bed and tracks in position.
Persuader Blower (for locomotive fire).
Petticoat Portion of the exhaust stack that guides exhausted steam into the stack proper. When this becomes displaced, the spent steam goes back through the flues, cutting off the draft from the fire.
Pickle Clerk See PICL Clerk
Pickup Freight Train which stops at intermediate points to pick up and drop off freight cars on an as required basis.
Pickup Shoe A device for picking up electric current from a third-rail system.
PICL An acronym standing for Perpetual Inventory of Car Location. A system of keeping track of cars within a yard as they are moved.
PICL Clerk Employee who ensures waybills are placed in their correct order as they actually appear on the track and performs other clerical duties associated with train movement.
PICL Rack A piece of equipment that contains a pigeonhole for each track in a railroad yard into which keypunch cards and/or waybills are placed in their correct order as they actually appear on the track.
Pie Card Meal ticket. Also called grazing ticket.
Pier A support for a truss or girder type bridge span.
Pig Slang term for a locomotive. Pig-mauler is a locomotive engineer and a pigpen is a locomotive roundhouse.
Piggyback TOFC or trailer on a flat car. Originally used when truck trailers were loaded onto flat cars for shipment by rail.
Piglet A locomotive engineer trainee.
Pike Railroad.
Pilot 1) An employee assigned to a train on which the engineer or conductor is not acquainted with the rules or portion of a railroad over which the train is to be moved. 2) The structure at the front of a locomotive for sweeping tracks, often called a cowcatcher. 3) A helper locomotive coupled to the front of the train locomotive to provide assistance over a heavy graded section of line.
Pilot Truck The leading small trucks on a locomotive also referred to as a Pony Truck.
Pin 1) A piece of metal used to lock the coupler to keep cars coupled together. 2) A means to push in the slack when uncoupling cars. 3) "Pins and Knuckles" (P/K) A term for train inspection.
Pin Ahead And Pick Up Two Behind One Cut off the engine, pick up three cars from siding, put two on the train, and set the first one back on the siding.
Pin For Home Go home for the day.
Pinner A switchman that follows.
Pin-head Brakeman.
Pin-lifter Yard brakeman.
Pin-puller A switchman that cuts off cars from a train.
Pink Caution card or rush telegram.
Piston The head which moves inside the cylinders of a steam locomotive when pressured by steam.
Piston Rod The rod attached to the piston which transmits the power to the connecting rods on the driving wheels.
Plant A slang term for an interlocking.
Platelayer Track maintenance man.
Platelayer's Hut Small shed for use of platelayers, section house.
Plug 1) One-horse passenger train. 2) A throttle of old-style locomotive, hence engineers were known as plug-pullers. 3) An illegal device to continuously bail independent brake pressure. Could be simply a coin or a more elaborate device wedged above the independent brake valve. 4) "Plugging her" means using the reverse lever as a brake instead of the air.
Plug Runs Local passenger trains.
Plush Run Passenger train.
Pocatello Yardmaster Derisive term for boomers, all of whom presumably claimed to have held, at some time, the tough job of night yardmaster at Pocatello, Idaho.
Pocket 1) Portion of track within a terminal on which a train may stand for a period of time. 2) A short track in a passenger terminal where locomotives can be placed out of the way temporarily.
Point A tapered moveable rail by which a train is directed from one line to another.
Pole To run light.
Pole Pin Superintendent of telegraph.
Poling Moving cars on an adjoining track by using a long spar which is placed in a socket of the car end beam and a socket on the locomotive pilot beam.
Pool Crew Base Number of crews determined by volumes and agreements to protect traffic levels at specific terminals.
Pop To let safety valve on boiler release, causing waste of steam, making a loud noise, and, when engine is working hard, raising water in boiler, thereby causing locomotive to work water.
Pop Car Gasoline car or speeder, so called because of the put-put noise of its motor exhaust.
Position Light Signal A fixed signal in which the indications are given by the position of two or more lights.
Positive Block Locomotive engineer.
Possum Belly Toolbox under a caboose or under some wrecking cars.
Pound Her Work a locomotive to its full capacity.
Pounding Their Ears Sleeping.
Power A name used to mention the engine units on a train.
Power Short Not enough power coming into the terminal to protect the scheduled outbound departures.
Power Supply [MR] A unit that changes 110 volt house current into low voltage current used to run the trains and accessories. Sometimes called transformer.
Power Unit A device which converts high-voltage main current into low voltage currents, often with several outputs.
Powered Frog A spring frog with a motor to open/close the movable wing rail. Used on high-speed lines.
Prime Mover Diesel or gas engine that powers a generator in a locomotive.
Private Car/Business Car Coaches owned by private individuals/railroad (for use of corporate officials or supervisors). Cars were positioned at end of trains and train crew were to remain off these cars except in performance of duties. Crew was also to see that occupants of these cars were not disturbed at all costs.
Prototype 1) A full-sized locomotive or car. 2) The original unit from which the model has been patterned.
PUD Pick up and delivery service.
Pull Apart When two sections of rail separate (pull apart) at a point where they are joined. Rail shrinks in extremely cold weather. When the shrinkage pressure gets too severe, rail will pull apart at its weakest point, usually at a joint.
Pull Freight To leave or to give up a job.
Pull The Air Set brakes by opening conductor's valve or angle cock.
Pull The Calf's Tail Yank the whistle cord.
Pull The Pin 1) Uncouple a car by pulling up the coupling pin. 2) A boomer expression meaning to resign or quit a job.
Puller 1) Switch engine hauling cars from one yard to another at the same terminal. 2) The operator of an electric truck that transfers baggage and mail around a terminal.
Pullman Car A sleeping car or parlor car operated by the Pullman Company providing a high standard of comfort and service for which a premium fare must be paid.
Pulse Power [MR] The locomotive is fed intermittent pulses of current to facilitate slow starts.
Pure Food Law See dogcatchers.
Pusher 1) A locomotive used to help trains up steep grades by pushing from behind. 2) Team leader responsible for seeing that work gets done on schedule.
Push Pull Train A passenger train with a MU or control car at either end.
Pussyfooter Railroad policeman.
Put 'Er On Make a reduction in air in the train's braking system. Put 'er all on means apply emergency brake, more commonly described as big-holing her.
Put it on the ground Derail.
Put On The Nosebag Eat a meal.
Puzzle Switch Another name for a slip or double slip switch.