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The Foamer's Guide To Sounding Like A Rail
Railroad Terms From Around The World

 

 

Numbers

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

J

K

L

M

N

O

P

Q

R

S

T

U

V

W

X

Y

Z

[MR] Model Railroading; [UK] United Kingdom; [EU] European Union; [AU] Australia;
[SL] Slovenia

 

Numbers

19 & 31 Train Orders These types of orders were transmitted to train crews. They covered vast area of conditions such as fixing meeting points, speed restrictions.
19 Order Train order that does not have to be signed for. Operator can hand it on a hoop or delivery fork as the train slows down. (See 31 order.)
31 Order Train order that must be signed for; the train must stop to pick it up. (See 19 order.)
99 Failure to protect your train or to flag it. Referring to Rule 99 in the Book of Rules.

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A

AAR Association of American Railroads. Represents the railroad industry in areas such as public relations, and advertising and establishes safety and equipment standards.
AB Valve The operating device used on freight cars for charging, applying, and releasing the brakes. Also known as a triple valve.
Abandon When a railroad ceases operation over a route with no intention of resuming service.
ABD Valve An improvement of the AB Valve that features a quick release.
ABDW Valve Improved version of the ABD Valve. Modifies the Emergency Portion of the brake system and provides for accelerated buildup of brake cylinder pressure during quick service applications.
ABS 1) See Automatic Block Signal. 2) [MR] A modeling plastic which is harder than Styrene.
Absolute Block A length of track in which no train or engine is permitted to enter while it is occupied by another train or engine.
Absolute Permissive Block (APB) A designated section of track or tracks within which the movement of trains will be governed by block signals, whose indications supersede the superiority of trains. The block signals may be controlled manually or automatically.
Absolute Signal A block or interlocking signal designated by an "A" marker or the absence of a number plate.
Abutment A foundation designed to hold back the pressure of solid ground, such as an end pier of a bridge.
ACC Alphacyanoacrylate, Super glue, also called "CA". A high-strength adhesive that can be used on metal and styrene plastic.
Accelerometer A device which measures a trains rate of speed change.
Accessorial Pricing Charges for any services performed that are incidental to line-haul transportation, such as weighing and switching cars.
Accommodation A local train which makes all stops.
ACI Automatic Car Identification. See "Kar Trak".
Active Dynamic Braking Using the traction motors as generators whose output is dissipated in a massive resistor bank. The effect being to consume the trains momentum in generating electricity.
Add To couple car(s) to a train.
Adhesion The amount of pulling or retarding force a wheel is capable of exerting on the rail without slipping or spinning. The base coefficient of friction between the wheel and the rail, are the determining factors and those factors are affected by the load on the wheel, wheel and rail condition and external factors such as oil, rust & weather.
Adhesion Coefficient The ratio of tangential and normal force that exist between the wheel and the rail during motion.
Adhesive Weight The total of the driving-wheel axle loads.
Advertised Time as per schedule on timetable.
AEI Automatic Equipment Identification (such as bar code readers).
Age Seniority, length of service.
Airbrake A braking system in which compressed air is used as the operating medium.
Airbrake System All of the operating devices, pipes, fittings, and foundation brake gear used for controlling the speed and stopping a locomotive or train.
Airbrush A miniature paint sprayer that gives a controlled application of thinned paint.
Air Flow Indicator An instrument that measures the air flow through the automatic brake valve to the brake pipe.
Air Monkey Air brake repairman.
Air Problems Any issues associated with the train line or air brake system, including leaking gasket, frozen or blocked train line, stuck triple valve.
Alertness Device A device that initiates a penalty brake application when the engineer does not maintain the required frequency of movement. - A "deadman" type of safety device.
Alignment Control Couplers Specially equipped couplers that limit lateral movement and reduce lateral forces on the track. These couplers minimize rail turnover, wheel climb, and jackknifing.
All Darkie, No Sparky (Hi-Ball on a roll by).
Alley A clear and open track, usually in a switching yard.
Alternating Current (AC) An electric current that reverses its direction of flow at regular intervals. Each move from zero to maximum strength and back to zero is known as a cycle.
American Railway Engineering Association A railroad industry professional engineering association based in Washington, DC.
Ammeter Meter used to measure current strength; How many amperes are being used by a motor or other electrical equipment.
Ampere or Amp Unit used to measure electrical current strength.
Amtrak Name (not an acronym) for the National Rail Passenger Corporation, a government-subsidized railroad. Amtrak's home page is www.amtrak.com.
Anchor Them Set hand brakes on still cars, the opposite is release anchors.
Angle Bars 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. Angle bars also are used to make temporary repairs to a broken section of rail until it can be replaced. Also known as "fishplates".
Angle Cock A device used for the purpose of opening or closing brake pipe on ends of cars, rear ends of tenders, and front ends of switch engines so equipped. Provision is made for supporting hose at proper angle.
Anti-climber Horizontal ribbing on the ends of engines and older cars which prevented car floors from jumping up and penetrating adjacent cars during a collision. Anti-climber brackets are also used on mining locos.
APE All Purpose Employee. An employee that is a promoted engineer that can also be forced to work as a conductor or trainman.
Application Consists of all of the operations from the time the brake pipe reduction is started until the brake is released.
Approach Signal A signal that governs the approach to another signal.
Approach Warning System A railroad signaling system that provides a signal as a train approaches an area of track, such as a roadway crossing.
Apron Overlapping deck between the cab and a tender; Hinged covering above locomotive and tender connection.
Arbor Wheel axle.
Arc Spark created by passage of current across a gap; also a curve.
Arch A shallow, semicircular configuration, usually constructed of firebrick or similar material, in a steam locomotive firebox below the tubes. It is intended to promote more efficient fuel consumption and reduce the amount of smoke while protecting the flue tubes.
Armature The wire-wound rotating part of a motor.
Armstrong Old-style equipment operated by muscular effort, such as hand-brakes, some turntables, engines without automatic stokers, etc.
Arrival Track The track which passenger trains arrive at a terminal; or freight trains arrive in or near a yard.
Articulated Car A car constructed by permanently connecting two or more platforms with an articulated joint (two platforms share a common truck).
Articulated Locomotive Any locomotive featuring two or engines (i.e. cylinders, rods, and wheels) under one boiler, mounted on separate or hinged frames. Permits large locomotives to snake around curves more easily.
Artist Man who is particularly adept, usually with prefix such as brake, pin, speed, etc.
ARU American Railway Union, Crushed during the Pullman strike in 1894.
Ash Cat A locomotive fireman.
Ash Pan A tray under a steam locomotives firebox which accumulates ashes.
Aspect The position or color of lights in a signal.
Association European Rail Association (UIC).
ASTRAC 1) Automatic Simultaneous Train Control (General Electric). 2) [MR] A model railroading system like DCC.
Automatic Block Signal (ABS) A block signal which is activated by track circuit or in conjunction with interlocking or controlled point circuits. This block signal automatically indicates track condition and block occupancy.
Automatic Cab Signal System (ACS) A system which provides for the automatic operation of the cab signals and cab warning whistle.
Automatic Coupler Couplers which will couple and uncouple automatically through the use of uncoupling ramps, permanent or electro-magnets. They permit remote operation as opposed to manual hand methods.
Automatic Stop Arm Mechanical arm located on the RoW linked to a wayside signal. It causes an emergency brake application when a train passes the signal and the arm is in the tripping position.
Automatic Train Control ATC A term covering systems designed to assist the engineer and provide against mishandling or misinterpretation of signals. These systems range from simple cab warning systems to fully automatic control.
Automatic Train Stop System (ATS) A system actuated by wayside inductors, so arranged that its operation will automatically result in the application of the brakes until the train has been brought to a stop.
Auxiliary Tender A second tender; enables an engine to maintain longer runs and reduces intermediate water or fuel stops.
Axle Box A metal casing that houses the axle bearing. Attached to the frame, the axle box transmits the weight of car to the axle.
Axle Counting Counting axles by sensing wheels, with computer control.

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B

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.

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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.
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.
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.

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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.

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E

Eagle-Eye Locomotive engineer.
Earth Electrical connection to complete a circuit. Also called Ground.
Easy Sign Signal indicating the train is to move slowly.
EDI An acronym for Electronic Data Interchange; involves the exchange via computer of information among carriers and between carriers and customers.
Effective Securing Device A device applied to secure a manually operated switch or derail for the protection of Roadway Workers. The device must be vandal and tamper resistant, and designed to be applied, secured, uniquely tagged, and removed only by the class, group, or class of employees for whom the protection is provided.
Electric Owl Night operator.
Electric Switch Lock An electrically controlled lock device affixed to a hand operated switch or derail to control it's use.
Elephant Car Special car coupled behind locomotive to accommodate head brakeman.
Embankment Ridge of earth or rock to raise the natural ground level.
Emergency Application An application resulting from an emergency rate of brake pipe reduction which causes the brakes to apply quickly and with maximum braking force for the shortest practical stopping distance.
Emergency Stop Lock up all wheels.
End Man Rear brakeman on freight train.
End Of Train Telemetry Device (ETD) A system of components that determines the rear car brake pipe pressure and transmits that information to the display on the head-of-train telemetry device (HTD).
End-to-End Model layout consisting of a length of track with a terminal at each end. Point-to-Point.
Engine A unit or combination of units propelled by any form of energy, and operated from a single control, used in train or yard service. The word "engine" may also be used to identify control cars.
Engine Servicing Track Area One or more tracks within an area in which the testing, servicing, repairing, inspecting, or rebuilding of engines is under the exclusive control of mechanical department personnel.
Engine Yard The yard in which engines are stored and serviced.
Engineer (Engr) The member of the crew designated and qualified to operate a train over the territory to be traversed.
Enginehouse A building in which locomotives are serviced.
Enroutes Count of trains destined to a particular yard or terminal that need to be switched. "Strong enroutes" indicates a forecast for a heavy switching workload for that day.
EOT Device An end-of-train device (sometimes called a FRED, or flashing rear- end device) that has replaced cabooses. Along with a flashing light, many EOTs can transmit information on brake-line pressure and speed to the locomotive, while a two way EOT is also capable of receiving a transmission from the lead unit to open the brake pipe and put the train into emergency stop.
Epoxy A two part adhesive consisting of the resin and the hardener. A good choice for securing nonporous surfaces such as metal, glass, and some plastics.
Exhaust Pipe A vertical pipe attached to the cylinder casing of a steam locomotive inside the smoke box in line with the smoke stack. It carries away the exhausted steam and the combustion products from the cylinders, producing a partial vacuum on the smoke box and draft on the fire.
Extra Any extra train that is not shown on schedules. It operates on train orders.
Extra Board A list of employees who may be assigned to train crews (1) when extra trains are run, (2) when regular crews have not had sufficient rest time before they can legally be required to return to duty, or (3) when relief men are required on regular crews.
Extra Gang The crew of track laborers assigned to maintenance work at various points on a railroad right-of-way. These employees may live in camp (bunk) cars where they are provided lodging and meals at a nominal cost.
Eye Trackside signal.

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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.

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G

G.M. General manager. G.Y.M. is general yardmaster.
Galloper Locomotive, the iron horse.
Galloping Goose 1) An early (1910-1920's) rail bus, often a modified highway coach. Possibly named for a famous unit on the Rio Grande Southern. 2) A shaky section car.
Galvanizer Car inspector.
Gandy Dancer Track laborer. Name may have originated from the gander-like tremulations of a man tamping ties, or from the old Gandy Manufacturing Company of Chicago, which made tamping bars, claw bars, picks, and shovels.
Gangway Space between the rear cab post of a locomotive and her tender.
Gap A space between the rails to insulate one rail from the other. Used to prevent a short in a reverse loop, or to divide the layout into separate blocks or circuits for multiple train operation.
Garden Freight yard.
Garden Railroad A form of model railroading which is usually done outdoors. First started in Europe and now one of the fastest growing segments of model railroading world wide. Most Garden Railroads are built on "One Gauge" track which is 45mm. between the rails.
Gas House Yard office.
Gas Turbine A rotary internal combustion engine driven by expanding gases exerting force against vanes or similar structures mounted on a common shaft.
Gas-Electric A self-propelled car powered by a gasoline engine driving a generator which supplies current to motors on the axles. Gas-electrics were the common form of branch line passenger train in the 1920's and 1930's.
Gate Switch.
Gateway See Interchange Point.
Gauge The distance between the inside edges of the rail heads. Most  railroads in North America and Europe are built to a standard gauge of 4'- 8 1/2". Some gauges currently in use are;
Broad gauge Spain 1674 mm 5' 5 9/10th"
  Portugal 1665 mm 5' 5 11/20th"
  Ireland 1600 mm 5' 3"
  Finland 1524 mm 5' exactly
  former USSR 1520 mm 5'
       
Standard gauge USA 1435 mm 4' 8 1/2"
  Metric English Standard 1435 mm 4' 8-1/2"
       
Narrow Gauge North African Cape 1067 mm 3'6"
  meter gauge 1000 mm 3' 3 37/100"
  Colorado   970 mm 3'
  US narrow   914 mm 3' 0"
  Maine   630 mm 2'
  North Colorado Std.   485 mm 18"
  Min. Commercial   425 mm 15"
Gauntlet
1) Two sets of standard-gauge rails interleaved so that two otherwise separate lines can share a bridge or tunnel. 2) A switch with long closure rails, so that the points and frog can be on opposite sides of an obstacle such as a bridge. 3) A third set of rails placed in between two other sets of rails to carry wide loads through tunnels.
Gay Cat Tramp held in contempt by fellow vagrants because he is willing to work if a job comes along.
Geep Nickname for General Motors GP (General Purpose) locomotives.
General Yardmaster, abbreviated Y.M.
General Order (GO) A publication used to summarize changes to the Timetable and other instruction manuals. GO's contain revision pages for the Timetable, and are issued periodically by the designated officer.
Generator A device that changes mechanical energy to electrical energy.
Get The Rocking Chair Retire on a pension.
Get Your Head
Cut In
Boomer slang for "wise up".
Girl or Old Girl Affectionate term for steam engine. The locomotive, like the sailing ship, is often called "she" instead of "it".
Give Her The Grit Use sand.
Glad Hand The metal coupling on the end of an air hose.
Glass Cars Passenger cars.
Glim Switchman's or trainman's lantern.
Glimmer Locomotive headlight.
Glory String of empty cars. Also death, especially by accident.
Glory Hunter Reckless, fast-running engineer.
Glory Road Sentimental term for railroad.
Go High Same as decorate.
Goat Slang expression for a locomotive, usually a small yard switcher.
Goat Feeder Yard fireman.
Gods Of Iron Huge, powerful locomotives.
Gomulka [SL] Class 311/315 Pafawag EMU. Notorious president's name for infamous and hated Polish hard-riding underground trainsets, misused here as commuter trains.
Gon Slang for gondola.
Gondola An open car with low sides for hauling items like lumber, steel and scrap. Also "bathtub gondolas", with higher sides for commodities like coal and gravel.
Gone Fishing Laid off.
Goods European term for general freight.
Goo-Goo Eye Locomotive with two firedoors.
Goose To make an emergency stop.
Goose Her Reverse a locomotive that is under headway.
Go-To-Hell Signal Signal given with violent motion of hand or lantern.
Goundhog A slang term for a promoted engineer with trainman seniority.
Governor Device for maintaining a constant engine crankshaft speed over long periods during which the load on the engine may vary.
GP General Purpose - 4 axle road switchers.
Grab Iron Handholds on the sides, ends, and roofs of cars.
Grabber Conductor of a passenger train. (He grabs tickets).
Grade The ratio of elevation gained or lost per distance traveled measured in feet, expressed as a percent "%". The base is 100 Ft. so a 1% grade represents a 1Ft. elevation change in 100Ft. of travel.
Light Grade = 1% or less.
Heavy Grade = 1% to 1.8% .
Mountain Grade = 1.8% or greater.
Cresting Grade = a long ascending grade that changes with enough magnitude to require a change in train handling procedures.
Grade Crossing When two tracks or a track and a road cross each other at the same level.
Grade Resistance Resistance that results from the energy put into a train to lift it vertically, as up a steep grade. The energy is returned without loss when the train comes back down again.
Grainer Rail slang for covered hoppers, which are often used to transport grain and other bulk, fluid solids.
Gramophone Obsolete term for telephone.
Grass Wagon Tourist car. (Tourists like scenery).
Grasshopper Old type of locomotive with vertical boiler and cylinders.
Grave-Digger Section man.
Graveyard Siding occupied by obsolete and disused engines and cars also scrap pile.
Graveyard Watch 12.01 A.M. to 8 A.M., or any midnight shift, so called because that shift includes the quietest hours of the day.
Gravity Yard A yard where gravity assists in the spotting and classifying of cars whereby they move along under their own momentum. Also called a Hump Yard.
Grazing Ticket Meal book.
Grease Monkey 1) An employee who is responsible for greasing frogs, switches and interlocking track equipment. 2) A car oiler.
Grease The Pig Oil the engine.
Greasy Spoon Railroad eating house. Menu is colloquially known as switch list, fork is hook, butter is grease pot, hotcakes are blind gaskets, and beans are torpedoes.
Green Eye A slang term for a clear signal.
Greenbacks Frogs for re-railing engines or cars.
Greenball Freight Fruit or vegetables.
Greenfield Outdoor conduit used by railroad.
Greetings From
The Ds
Train orders from the dispatcher.
Griever Spokesman on grievance committee. Brotherhood or Union representative at an official investigation.
Grind Shay-geared engine.
Grip Trainman's suitcase.
Ground Throw A mechanical device (usually done manually) which will change the position of a turnout, and simultaneously change the position of the signal mounted on top of the ground throw.
Groundhog Brakeman, yardmaster, or switch engine.
Grunt Locomotive engineer. Traveling grunt is road foreman of engines (hogs). Grunt may also be a lineman's ground helper; grunting is working as a lineman's helper.
Gumshoe A railroad detective.
Gun 1) Torpedo, part of trainman's equipment; it is placed on the track as a signal to the engineer. 2) The injector on the locomotive that forces water from tank to boiler. 3) To gun means to control air-brake system from rear of train.
Gunboat Large steel car.
Gut Air hose. Guts is drawbar.
Gypsum Calcium sulfate used to make molding plaster, Hydrocal, and Plaster of Paris. These products are commonly used in model railroad scenery projects.

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H

H2O A water train.
Hack A caboose.
Half Period of two weeks.
Halt [Usually UK] Stopping place, without normal station facilities, for local train services.
Ham Poor telegrapher or student.
Hand Bomber or Hand Grenade Engine without automatic stoker, which is hand-fired.
Hand-On Train order or company mail caught with the hoop or without stopping.
Hanging Up The Clock Boomer term that meant hocking your railroad watch.
Hardshell A scenery base made by dipping paper towels in plaster or using plaster-impregnated gauze and laying it over a light support structure like cardboard.
Harness Passenger trainman's uniform.
Hash House Railroad restaurant or lunch stand.
Hat Ineffectual railroad man. (All he uses his head for is a hat rack).
Hay Sleep on the job or any kind of sleep. Caboose was sometimes called hay wagon
Hay Burner 1) Hand oil lantern, inspection torch. 2) A horse used in railroad or streetcar service.
Head End Cars Any freight car which is coupled to the front of a passenger train.
Head End Power (HEP)  Power for heating passenger cars, usually located in a car behind the locomotive known as a HEP Car; sometimes HEP comes from a generator aboard the locomotive.
Head End Revenue Money which railroads receive for hauling mail, express, baggage, newspapers, and milk in cans, usually transported in cars nearest the locomotive, these commodities or shipments being known as head-end traffic.
Head In Take a sidetrack when meeting an opposing train.
Head Man Front brakeman on a freight train who rides the engine cab. Also called head pin.
Headshunt [UK] A headshunt, or shunting neck, is a track running parallel with the main line, facing the yards. It is arranged so that shunting can take place without interfering with the main line. In the US, this is known as a yard lead or switching lead.
Headway The time interval between trains running in the same line.
Hearse Caboose.
Heel Cars on end of tracks with brakes applied.
Heisler A type of geared steam locomotive used by logging railroads. The Heisler had two cylinders connected to a driveshaft which in turn was connected to the trucks.
Helix A spiral track, like a corkscrew, for changing elevations on a model railroad.
Helper A locomotive added to a train to help in climbing steep grades.
HEP See Head End Power.
Herald Trademark or logo of a railroad.
Herder Man who couples engines and takes them off upon arrival and departure of trains.
Hi-cube A modern box car that is taller than standard height, and therefore has more cubic capacity.
High Iron Main line or high-speed track (which is laid with heavier rail than that used on unimportant branches or spurs).
High Liner Main-line fast passenger train.
Highball Signal given by conductor to the engineer when the train is ready to proceed to the next designated stop. Signal is made by waving hand or lamp in a high, wide semicircle.  Verb highball or phrase 'ball the jack means to make a fast run. Word highball originated from old-time ball signal on post, raised aloft by pulley when track was clear.
Highball Artist A locomotive engineer known for fast running.
High-Daddy Flying switch.
High Rail / Hi-Rail A motor car with small rail wheels used to carry maintenance workers.
Highway Crossing See Grade Crossing.
High-Wheeler Passenger engine (steam) or fast passenger train. Also highball artist.
Hiker A lineman who "hikes sticks" instead of prosaically climbing poles.
Hit 'Er Work an engine harder. (Probably a variation of "hit the ball," which means "Get busy-no more fooling!").
Hit The Grit or Gravel Fall off a car or locomotive or get kicked off.
Hobo Tramp. Term is said to have originated on Burlington Route as a corruption of "Hello, boy!" which construction workers used in greeting one another.
Hobo or Bo An individual who rides freight trains to get from town to town. Not to be confused with a bum, a hobo is a transient worker.
Hog Slang term for a locomotive.
Hog Law Refers to ICC service regulation which limits continuous duty to 12 hours. A crew "goes dead" after 12 hours and must be relieved by a "dog catcher" crew.
Hogger Slang term for an engineer.
Holding Her Against The Brass Running electric car at full speed.
Holding Lights Amber or green light signal displayed at certain station platforms at or near the conductor's position, to regulate train spacing.
Hole Side track on a single track line which permits another train to pass.
Holy Roller A graffiti slang term for a car transport car. Liked for their great length. Perfect for doing end-to-end and other large "productions" with spray paint.
Homasote A pressed paperboard often used for roadbed.
Home Cars Freight cars owned by the railroad.
Home Guard Employee who stays with one railroad, as contrasted with boomer. A homesteader is a boomer who gets married and settles down.
Home Signal A fixed signal governing the entrance to an interlocking or controlled point.
Hood Unit A road-switcher.
Hook Wrecking crane or auxiliary.
Hook 'Er Up And Pull Her Tail To set the reverse lever up on the quadrant and pull the throttle well out for high speed.
Hoop A crane loop used to pass orders up to a moving train; the fireman puts his arm through the large hoop.
Hopper Car An open-top car for hauling items that don't need protection from the weather like coal and gravel. Empties through doors in funnel-like bins in bottom of car. Covered hoppers have roofs; They carry grain and other items that need protection from weather.
Hoptoad Derail.
Horse 'Er Over Reverse the engine. This is done by compressed air on modern locomotives, but in early days, manually operated reversing equipment required considerable jockeying to reverse an engine while in motion.
Horsebox Car for the conveyance of horses.
Horsepower The measuring unit of power. The power necessary to continuously raise 550 pounds one foot in one second.
Horsepower per Trailing Ton The total horsepower of all working locomotives divided by the total trailing weight of the train in tons.
Hose Coupler Brakeman who handles trains by himself with the road engine around a big passenger terminal.
Hostler A person who operates engines in engine house territory and works under the direction of the engine house foreman (inside hostler). Some railroads created outside hostlers after a limited exam, who could deliver engines anywhere in the terminal.
Hostler's Controls A simple throttle to allow independent movement of locomotives not equipped with engineer's controls.
Hot Having plenty of steam pressure (applied to locomotives).
Hot Bearing Detector See Hot Box Detector.
Hot Box Overheated journal or bearing. Also called hub. This was a frequent cause of delay in the old days but is virtually nonexistent on trains that are completely equipped with ball-bearings. Trainmen are sometimes called hotbox detectors
Hot Box Detector (HBD) Trackside automated device used to detect hot bearings. It reports via radio to either the train crew and/or the dispatcher. May also detect hanging equipment and/or protruding objects (like a shifted load), count axles,  or report train speed.
Hot Jewel Same as hotbox.
Hot Shot Train with very high priority compared to other trains.
Hot Wheels Overheating of a railcar's wheels due to sticking brakes and brake shoes rubbing against the wheel tread. They can result in thermal cracking if severe.
Hot Worker Boilermaker who repairs leaks in the firebox or flue sheet while there is pressure in the boiler.
Hot-Footer Engineer or conductor in switching service who is always in a hurry.
Hot-Water Bottle Elesco feed water heater.
House Track A track entering or running alongside a freight house. Cars are spotted here for loading or unloading.
How Many Ems Have You Got? How many thousand pounds of tonnage is your engine pulling? (M stands for 1,000).
Hump 1) Artificial knoll at end of classification yard over which cars are pushed so that they can roll on their own momentum to separate tracks.  After the cars are released from a locomotive, they are controlled by an employee in a control tower. 2) The summit of a hill division or the top of a prominent grade.
Humpback Job Local freight run. (Conductor spends much time in caboose bending over his wheel reports)
Humped Count of cars that are sorted in a hump yard.
Humpers Trains destined to a "hump" yard.
Hut Brakeman's shelter just back of the coal bunkers on the tender tank of engines operating through Moffat Tunnel. May also refer to caboose, locomotive cab, switchman's shanty, or crossing watchman's shelter.
Hydrocal A US Gypsum product used in model railroading for the base of hard shell scenery.

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I

ICC The Interstate Commerce Commission. This agency, until 1995, regulates most forms of surface transportation, and approves the instituting and discontinuing of railroad services. In 1995, the ICC was dissolved, and it's duties conferred to the Surface Transportation Board.
Idler An unloaded flatcar placed before or after a car from which oversize machinery, pipe, or other material projects.
IHC International Hobby Corporation. A Model Railroad Manufacturer.
In A trainman who is at the home terminal and off duty is in.
In The Clear A train is in the clear when it has passed over a switch and frog so far that another train can pass without damage.
In The Color Train standing in the signal block waiting for a clear board.
In The Ditch Wrecked or derailed.
In The Hole Train on a siding waiting for another train to pass.
IND INDependent City Subway - subdivision B-2 of the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) subway system.
Independent Application and Release Control Controls independent brakes on multiple locomotives from a single control.
Indian Valley Line An imaginary railroad "at the end of the rainbow," on which you could always find a good job and ideal working conditions. (Does not refer to the former twenty-one-mile railroad of that name between Paxton and Engels, Calif.) Boomers resigning or being fired would say they were going to the Indian Valley. The term is sometimes used to mean death or the railroader's Heaven. See Big Rock Candy Mountain.
Indicators Illuminated signs on the engine and caboose that display the number of the train.
Industrial Locomotive A small locomotive used on an industrial railroad for switching.
Industrial Railroad A small railroad usually operated within a factory or industrial complex. These railroads are also used to move freight between an industrial complex and a nearby common carrier.
Industrial Track A track other than a main track, running track, siding, or yard track, upon which movements must be made at Restricted Speed.
Initial Station The first station on each subdivision from which a train is authorized to occupy the main track.
Inspection Car Self-propelled service vehicle used for inspecting track.
Interchange A track on which various cars are delivered or received from one railroad to another, also the point where passengers or freight are exchanged between trains.
Interline Traffic Goods that are transported to their final destination by more than one rail company.
Interlocking A mechanical or electrical signaling system that ensures that only one train at a time is allowed to move through a junction.
Interlocking Appliances The parts of an interlocking that are capable of movement (i.e. switches, derails, locks, movable point frogs, movable bridges, etc.).
Interlocking Limits The tracks between the opposing home signals of an interlocking.
Interlocking Signals The fixed signals of an interlocking.
Interlocking Station A location from which an interlocking is operated.
Intermodal Service Freight moving via at least two different modes of transport. Intermodal service generally involves the shipment of containers and trailers by rail, truck, barge or ship.
Interurban An electrically operated transit system linking a series of town to each other, or two a larger urban area. built to a heavier standard than trolley systems, they sometimes handled freight as well.
Inverse Gradient The temporary condition when the brake pipe pressure is higher at the rear of the train than at the head end of the train (for example, at the beginning of a service brake application).
Iron Rails.
Iron Horse Slang for locomotive.
Iron Skull Boilermaker.
IRT Inter-boro Rapid Transit - subdivision A of the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) subway system.
Island A section of track which incorporates a highway crossing.
Island Platform A passenger platform with tracks on both sides. Pedestrian access is often by overpass or tunnel.
Ivory Tower The main control room where the TMD (Train Movement Directors) are based.

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J

Jack Locomotive. (A term often confused with the lifting device, hence seldom used). Most commonly, a "Juice Jack": electric locomotive.
Jacket American term for outer covering of thin sheet steel over the lagging material of a locomotive boiler, cylinder or other insulated heat radiating surface.
Jackpot Miscellaneous assortment of mail and parcels piled in the aisle of a postal car and requiring removal before the mail in the stalls can be "worked".
Jailhouse Spuds Waffled potatoes.
Jam Buster Assistant yardmaster.
Jam Nuts Doughnuts.
Janney To couple; derived from the Janney automatic coupler.
Jawbone Shack Switch shanty.
Jay Rod Clinker hook.
Jerk A Drink Take water from track pan without stopping train. From this came the word jerkwater, which usually means a locality serving only to supply water to the engines of passing trains; a Place other than a regular stop, hence of minor importance as jerkwater town, jerkwater college, etc.
Jerk Soup Same as jerk a drink.
Jerk-By See flying switch.
Jerry Section worker; sometimes applied to other laborers.
Jew Bar Slang term for a device that holds a track in gauge. Used on sidings or industrial track.
Jewel Journal brass.
Jigger Full tonnage of "dead" freight.
Jimmies Four-wheel coal or ore cars. Also known as "Jennies".
Jitney 1) Four-wheel electric truck that carries baggage around inside a terminal. 2) An unregulated private automobile that carried passengers on public highways for 5-cent fare in direct competition with trolley cars.
Johnson Bar The reversing lever of a steam locomotive.
Join The Birds Jump from moving engine or car, usually when a wreck is imminent.
Joint 1) A length of rail, generally 33 or 39 feet. 2) Making a joint: coupling cars. 3) Riding to a joint is bringing cars together so that they couple.
Joint Facilities Any facilities owned by two or more railroads.
Joker Independent or locomotive brake, part of E-T (engine-train) equipment.
Journal The load-bearing part of a shaft or axle support by a bearing.
Journal Box Metal box around axle bearing for holding a lubricant saturated pad next to the wheel bearing.
Journal Log Compiled by the conductor, a list of the make-up and events of train movement.
Juggler Member of way-freight crew who loads and unloads freight at station stops.
Juggling The Circle Missing a train-order hoop.
Juice Electrical power. A juice fan is one who makes a hobby out of electric railways.
Juice Jack Straight-electric locomotive.
Junction A location designated by the Timetable where two or more railroad lines converge.
Junk Pile Old worn-out locomotive that is still in service.

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K

Kadee Brand name for precision couplers which are designed for model railroading.
Kangaroo Court An official hearing or investigation, so named because it may be held wherever most convenient, anywhere along the road, jumping around like a kangaroo, to act on main-line mix-ups or other urgent problems.
Kar Trak A modern computerized system used to keep track of all railroad equipment.
Keeley Water can for hot journals or bearings. Nickname derived from "Keeley cure" for liquor habit.
Kennedy [SL] Class 661-1 GM G16 C-C diesels. So called because Kennedy was the President of the USA at the time when they arrived.
Kettle Any small locomotive, especially an old, leaky one. Also called teakettle and coffeepot.
Key 1) A telegraph instrument. 2) Wedge of hard wood or spring steel inserted between rail and chair to hold rail firmly in position at correct gauge.
Key-By The act of lowering an automatic stop arm in order to pass a red signal.
Kick See drop.
Kicker A common expression for a triple valve in defective order which throws air brakes into emergency when only a service application is intended.
King Snipe Track or section foreman.
Kingpin 1) A conductor. 2) The pivot on which a truck swivels. Also called a center pin. On a prototype railroad car, the steel pin that connects the wheel set or bogie to the bolster at the pivot point. 3) [MR] Usually a plastic pin or screw that attaches the truck of a model railroad car to the bolster on that car.
Kitbash A model railroading term meaning to combine parts from kits to produce a unique model.
Kitchen 1) Caboose. 2) Engine cab. Firebox is kitchen stove.
Knock Her In The Head Slow down.
Knockout Same as bump.
Knowledge Box 1) Yardmaster's office. 2) The president of the road.
Knuckle The movable portion of the drawbar coupler.

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L

Ladder Track A track connecting a number of parallel sidings or stubs in a yard or terminal.
Lap Position on the brake valve which maintains existing pressure in the train line (automatic air) or brake cylinder (straight air).
Laplander Passenger jostled into someone else's lap in crowded car.
Lashup Two or more diesel or straight electric locos operating under MU control.
Last Call, Last Terminal, etc Death.
Lay Over Time spent waiting for connection with other train.
Lay-By Passing track, sidetrack.
LCL Less than Carload Lot, any shipment of freight too small to fill a car.
Lead Track Trackage connecting a yard with the main line.
Letters Service letters given to men who resign or are discharged. Applicants for railroad jobs are usually asked to present letters proving previous employment.
Level Crossing [UK] Crossing of two railways, or a railway and road, on the same level, equivalent to US grade crossing.
Lever Jerker Interlocking lever man.
LGB Lehmann Gross Bahn, German Manufacturer of high quality large scale Model railroading equipment.
Library Cupola of caboose. Trainman occupying it was sometimes known as a librarian.
Lift Transportation Collect tickets.
Light Engine Locomotive running without a train.
Light Engine Move Movement of engines from one location to another, as an Extra, to balance out power requirements between terminals, or serve as Emergency Power for a train that died, or serve as pushers returning from a push.
Light Rail Modern transit systems for inner-city people movement, such as the Denver Rapid Transit. Not designed for LCL, freight or interchange use. Can be any gauge, but standard gauge is most popular in the USA.
Lightning Slinger Telegraph operator.
Limit of Shunt Board marking the point beyond which vehicles must not pass during shunting operations.
Line Capacity The maximum number of trains that can operate safely and reliably over a given segment of track during a given period of time.
Line Haul Road A railroad that handles freight over a medium to long distance.
Liner Passenger train.
Link And Pin 1) Old-style type of coupler (now rarely used) was called Lincoln pin. 2) Used to denote old fashioned methods of railroading.
Lizard Scorcher Dining-car chef.
Load Gauge The limiting dimensions of height and width of rolling stock and loads carried to ensure adequate clearance with line side structures.
Load Limit Weight limit established over a specific rout based on the weight or size of the rail, condition of the line, condition of bridges, the weather and many other factors.
Loading Up Loco control transmitting power to the traction motors per engineer's command.
Loads Loaded freight cars.
Local Line Line of track normally used by suburban or stopping passenger trains.
Local Load A truckload of mail in sacks and parcels sent from the storage car direct to a car on a local train, containing mail for towns along the route of the train.
Locomotive Locomotives are units propelled by any form of energy, or a combination of such units operated from a single control station, used in train or yard service.
Locomotive Speed Limiter A modern device used to control train speeds.
Loop Continuous circular connection between up and down lines at terminal station or yard enabling trains to reverse direction without releasing locomotive.
Loose Coupled vehicles of a train loosely coupled together with three link couplings.
Loss of Shunt Failure of a shunt train detection system due to poor electrical contact between the wheel and the rail (see Shunt).
Louse Cage Caboose
Low Arm A restricting signal in the days of the semaphore with the arm down 45 degrees.
Low Irish Stands for medium clear signal.
Low Iron Yard tracks; anything not on the main line.
Lubricating Oil Viscous liquid introduced between moving surfaces to reduce friction.
Lunar White The color of white used on all switches except on main line.
Lunch Hooks Your two hands.
Lung Drawbar or air hose.
Lung Doctor Locomotive engineer who pulls out drawbars.

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M

Madhouse 1) Engine foreman. 2) A scene of unusual activity or confusion.
Main Line (also Main Iron, Main Stem, Main Track) Primary rail line over which trains operate between terminals. It excludes sidings, and yard and industry tracks. During the Timetable / Train Order era, the main line was  restricted by rules to travel only by scheduled trains or those trains with train orders or on a schedule. Scheduling is now an exception and not a rule, and most lines are operated by Track Warrant or CTC or other systems.
Maintenance Of Way (MW or MOW) A location where work is being done by Roadway Crews.
Maintenance Of Way Equipment The machinery and rolling stock used to keep track and roadbed in good condition.
Main Pin An official.
Make A Joint Couple cars.
Mallet An articulated steam locomotive named for the designer, Anatole Mallet. Sometimes used to describe any articulated locomotive, though "true" Mallets were compound engines.
Malley Reference to the Mallet Articulated Cab Forward steam locomotives used by Southern Pacific railroad in the 30's, 40's and 50's.
Manifest Fast freight usually made up of mixed railcars.
Manual Block System A series of consecutive blocks, governed by block signals operated manually, using information by telegraph, telephone or other means of communication.
Marker A reflector flag, light, or other highly visible marking device, in the red-orange-amber color range, affixed to the rear of a train to indicate that the train is complete. Markers may be communicating or non-communicating devices. As an added note, rear helper engines may serve as markers.
Marklin Marklin is a German manufacturer of high quality precision model trains. Marklin is the worlds largest manufacturer of model trains, and produces "Z" scale, "N" scale "HO" scale and #1 Gauge large scale trains.
Mars Light An oscillating light on the front of a road locomotive.
Marshaling Yard Yard (classification yard) where trains are disconnected and reassembled based on their destination.
Master Maniac Master mechanic.
Master Mind An official.
Matching Dials Comparing time.
Maul Work an 'engine with full stroke and full throttle.
McKeen Cars Gasoline-mechanical passenger railcars, built between 1905 and 1917. They had distinctive steel bodies, with a "windsplitter" front end, round tail, port-hole windows and center entrance.
ME Maintenance of Equipment Department.
Meat Run Fast run of perishable freight, hotshot.
Meet When two trains traveling in opposite directions pass each other. Usually used to describe a single mainline operation where one train waits on a siding for the other to pass.
Meet Order Train order or other instructions specifying when and where two trains should meet and which one should remain on the main.
Merry-Go-Round Turntable.
Mexico Crossings Number of cars delivered/received on a daily basis between U.S. railways and Mexican railways at border points.
Micro-Trains Manufacturer of precision model railroading equipment in both "Z" scale and "N" scale.
Middle Man, Middle Swing Second brakeman on freight train.
Mike Mikado-type engine (2-8-2), so named because first of this type were built for Imperial Railways of Japan. (Because of the war with Japan, some railroads re-christened this type MacArthur)
Mile Post (MP) Any point along the right-of-way, designated by a measurement from a specific location given in tenths of a mile, i.e. MP 764.2. Also, a trackside sign displaying this measurement.
Mileage Hog Engineer or conductor, paid on mileage basis, who uses his seniority to the limit in getting good runs.
Milk Car Refrigerator car for milk.
Milk Train A slow train.
Milk Truck Large hand truck with high cast-iron wheels used to transfer milk cans around in a terminal.
Mill 1) Steam locomotive.  2) Typewriter.
Mixed Load Truckload of mail sacks and parcels for many destinations sent from storage car to the yard (an outside platform) for further separation before forwarding.
Mixed Train A train pulling both passengers and freight cars.
Module A section of a layout that is built following a standard pattern or dimensions. Each module can be connected interchangeably with any other module built to the same standards. NMRA has developed standards for "HO" and Ntrak is an organization that has developed standards for N scale modules.
Monkey 1) When a crew has been on duty sixteen hours and is caught out on the road, the monkey gets them and they are required by Federal labor laws to tie up until a new crew comes. (See dogcatchers) 2) Monkey House: Caboose. 3) Monkey Money: The pass of a passenger who is riding free. 4) Monkey Motion: Walschaert or Baker valve gear on locomotive. 5) Monkey Suit: A passenger trainman's uniform or any other smart-looking uniform. 6) Monkey's Tail: Slang for the handle of a switch stand, as in twisting the monkey's tail.
Monorail A railroad in which the train runs on a single rail.
Moonlight Mechanic Night roundhouse foreman.
Moped [SL] Class 342 B-B Asgen electrics. So called because of their light weight and incapability to drag heavy trains.
Mopping Off Refers to escaping steam.
Mother Hubbard A locomotive with the cab straddling the boiler like a saddle. (See Camelback)
Motion A moving mechanism (valve gear) on a steam locomotive.
Motor Electric locomotive.
Motor Bridge Bogie having driving wheels or motored axles.
Motor Car A motor-driven railway inspection or work car which rides on the rails and is operated by maintenance of way employees to minimize time spent traveling while on duty. NOTE Motor-Driven actually means driven by a small gasoline or diesel engine.
Motorman Driver of an electric train, railcar trolley, streetcar or multiple unit train.
Mountain Pay Overtime.
Mountain Railway Specialized form of railway for ascending mountains.
Movable Point Frog A frog with a moving alignment allowing open flangeway for train movement.
Moving Dirt Fireman shoveling coal into firebox.
Moving Spirit Train dispatcher, more often called DS.
MP 1) Mile Post. 2) Motive Power Department
MRIA Model Railroad Industry Association, An association of Model Railroad manufacturers.
MTH Mikes Train House "O" gauge model railroad manufacturer.
MTYS Empty cars.
MU See Multiple Unit.
Muckers Excavators in construction work.
Mud Hen A surveyor.
Mud Hop A yard clerk. A car checker who maintains a listing of freight cars on arriving and departing trains.
Mud Sucker A non-lifting injector.
Mule A movable, hand-carried derail that is placed on either rail.
Mule Skinner Driver of mule cart.
Multilevel Car A long flatcar designed with one or more deck levels in addition to the car's main deck; used to haul new automobiles and trucks.
Multiple Aspect Signaling (MAS) A system of color light signaling, that could be provided either by multi-lens, or searchlight signals in which each signal unit can display more than two aspects.
Multiple Main Tracks Two or more main tracks, the use of which is designated in the timetable.
Multiple Unit (MU) Cars or locomotives which contain their own power but which can be controlled from the foremost car or locomotive Used on commuter trains and diesel locomotives. Cables between units link controls in "party line fashion".
Music Master Paymaster.
Mutt And Jeff Pump Denver & Rio Grande locomotive with big air pump on right and small one on left.
Muzzle Loader Any hand-fired steam locomotive.
MW Maintenance of Way Department

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N

Narrow Gauge Track with a gauge less than 4 feet 8 1/2 inches.
Navvy RR construction workers who "navigated" (roamed) from job to job. (plural is navvies).
NEC North-East Corridor. The Amtrak route with intensive passenger traffic that connects Washington, DC, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston.
News Butcher Peddler who sells magazines, candy, fruit, 'etc., in trains. Usually employed nowadays by Union News Co.
Nickel Grabber Streetcar conductor.
Nipping Supporting the tie while another track worker drives spikes.
NMRA National Model Railroad Association. The NMRA helps to promote the hobby, establish standards, reward modelers for their talents as Master Model Railroaders, and much more.
No Bill Nonunion or nonbrotherhood railroad worker. Also called nonair.
Normal Usual position of points or signals before action initiated by signalman to allow a train movement.
Normal Gradient The condition that exists when the air brake system is fully charged and there is no difference in air pressure between the front and back ends the train.
Nose Front end of locomotive.
Nose On Couple on with head end of engine.
Nose Suspended Motor A traction motor mounted on bearings on an axle that is driven via a flexible connection attached to a cross member on the truck. The gear on the axle is in constant mesh with the pinion on the armature shaft.
Nosebag Lunch carried to work. Put on the nosebag means to eat a meal.
Number Dummy Yard clerk or car clerk. Also called number grabber.
Nut Splitter or Nut Buster Machinist.

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O

O.R.C. Conductor. (See Big O)
O.S. 1) On Schedule. 2) To report the passing of a train.
Observation Car Passenger carrying vehicle, usually at rear of train, with windows and seating arranged to give maximum view of passing scenery.
Occupied Camp Car Signal A white circular sign with black letters, which must be supplemented by a white light at night. When displayed, it signifies that employees are in, around, or in the vicinity of camp cars.
Oilcan Tank car
Offsider [AU] See Second Person
Old Girl Affectionate term for steam engine.
Old Hand Experienced railroader usually with high seniority. Also called old head.
Old Man Superintendent or general manager.
Ole Hoss Salvage warehouse, or freight on hand.
On The Advertised According to schedule; right on time. Often called on the card (timecard) and sometimes on the cat hop.
On The Carpet Commoner version of dancing on the carpet.
On The Ground Used to describe a derailment.
On The Spot See Spot.  (See Spot run. Run, Spot, run. Sorry, I couldn't help it.)
Op Telegraph operator.
Open Air Navigator Hobo riding freight on top.
Open The Gate Switch a train onto or off a siding. Close the gate means to close the switch after the train has passed it.
Operation Lifesaver Nationwide railroad public safety outreach program.
Operator (Opr) The person in control of a designated section of track who is accountable to the Dispatcher for movement of trains.
ORC Old Reliable Conductors, The union that represented conductors during the mid to late 19th century.
Order Board See Board.
Originating Line Haul Road The railroad on which any freight shipment starts.
Originating Station The first station on each subdivision from which a train is authorized to occupy the main track.
OTM Other Track Material.  Materials other than ties and rails ... spikes, bolts, tie plates, rail anchors, beer, etc.
Out When a trainman is at a point other than his home terminal, either on or off duty, he is out.
Outlawed See dogcatchers.
Over The Knoll Getting up the hill.
Overhead Electric wire strung above the track which supplies power to electric locomotives.
Overhead Bridge Any bridge whether railroad, automotive, or pedestrian, which crosses above the trackage.
Overhead Line Haul Road Any railroad or railroads between the originating line haul road and the terminating line haul road. Also known as a bridge line haul road.
Overhead Route (Also called Bridge route or bridge traffic.) Freight which is delivered by one railroad to a second railroad for delivery to a third railroad.
Overlap Where two block signals control the same stretch of track.
Overlap Sign A sign marking the limit of control of a block signal.

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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.
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.
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.

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Q

Quill The style used by an engineer to blow the whistle or horn. Also refers to the whistle.
Quill Drive Westinghouse electric motor system (c. 1917). Traction motors were mounted to the locomotive frame and drove the wheels through a hollow axle ("quill").
Quilling Personalized technique of blowing a locomotive whistle, applicable only in the days before the whistles became standardized

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R

Rabbit A derail. An arrangement for preventing serious wrecks by sidetracking runaway trains, cars, or locomotives on a downgrade. Unlike regular sidetracks, the derail ends relatively abruptly on flat trackless land instead of curving back onto the main line. The term rabbit is applied to this device because of the timidity involved.
Race Track Straight and flat stretch of track upon which an engineer can safely make unusually high speed. Also parallel stretches of track of two competing railroads upon which rival trains race one another (contrary to company rules but much to the delight of enginemen, trainmen, and passengers, and perhaps to the secret delight of some officials).
Rack 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 a Cog Railroad.
Radio Control A method of operating and controlling locomotives by means of radio signals transmitted through the air or by means of a carrier control basis through the track.
Rag Waver Flagman.
Rail Any railroad employee.
Rail Anchor A spring-steel device driven onto the base of the rail and bears against the tie, preventing it from moving by the resistance of the stone ballast.
Rail Car Self-propelled passenger carrying vehicle.
Rail Diesel Car (RDC) A self-propelled diesel-powered passenger car built by the Budd Company.
Rail Head The top of the rail.
Rail Joiner A formed piece of metal that joins two rails together and helps to complete the electrical circuit.
Rail Web The thin vertical section between the base and the head.
Rail Weight Expressed in "pounds per yard". Rail currently rolled in the USA ranges from 112# to 145#. Lighter rail (12#, 20#, etc.) is still rolled in other countries.
Railfan A person who enjoys riding, watching, photographing, and reading about trains.
Rake Wagons/carriages semi-permanently joined in an articulation rather than via a coupler.
Ran a Red Block Enter a circuit without clearance from the control tower.
Rap The Stack Give your locomotive a wide open throttle, make more speed. Rapper is an engineer who works his engine too hard.
Rat Slang for a freight train.
Rattle Her Hocks Get speed out of an engine.
Rattler 1) Freight train. 2) Streetcar.
Rawhider Official, or any employee, who is especially hard on men or equipment, or both, with which he works. A rawhider, or slave driver, delights in causing someone to do more than his share of work. Running too fast when picking up a man on the footboard, or making a quick stop just short of him when he is expecting to step on, so that he has to walk back, are two ways it is done, but there are almost as many ways of rawhiding as there are different situations
Razor Saw A fine toothed saw used by model railroaders that resembles a straight razor.
RCL (Remote Control Locomotive). A locomotive usually used in switching operated via remote radio control. The control base is usually worn on a belt known as a beltpack. While road locomotives must be operated by engineers according to labor laws, RCL units may be operated by switchman, a source of labor friction.
RCS (Remote Control Section) A type of Lionel track for unloading and uncoupling.
Real Estate Poor coal mixed with dirt or slag. When mixed with sand it is called seashore.
Recrew Crew used to bring a train into a terminal when the original crew has insufficient time to complete the trip and a second crew is necessary.
Rectifier A device for converting AC current into DC current.
Red Ball A fast freight train.
Red Board A red signal or horizontal semaphore arm requiring the train to stop and proceed with caution.
Red Eye 1) Same as red board. 2) Liquor.
Red Onion Eating house or sleeping quarters for railroad men.
Redcap Station porter. Term coined about 1900 by George H. Daniels, New York Central publicist.
Reefer A refrigerator car. Similar to a boxcar but has ice or mechanical cooling equipment.
Reefer Block A freight train consist of refrigerator cars.
Reagan [SL] Class 664 GM G26 C-C diesel. So called because Regan was the President of the USA at the time when they arrived.
Regenerative Braking Braking mode of electric locomotives, where the motors act as generators as with the dynamic braking but, the current is fed back to the supply rather than being dissipated as heat. Asynchronous motors can return 90% of the energy otherwise dissipated via dynamic braking.
Regional Railroad A railroad which is smaller than a major railroad but larger than a short line railroad.
Register Station A station at which a train register is located.
Regular Train A train authorized by a timetable schedule.
Relay Circuit Box A wooden or metal cabinet that holds the electronic relays that operate crossing flashers.
Relay Power Changing out a train's locomotives to correct a situation, such as bad order engines or wrong type/class of units for service.
Repeater Signal Signal placed on the opposite side of the track from the controlling signal. It repeats the aspect of the controlling signal for a greater range of vision.
Reporting Marks These are the letters or abbreviations that mark the sides of freight cars to identify what railroad owns the car. Also see Road Names.
Reptile See snake.
Resistor A device used to reduce the intensity of electricity.
Restricted Speed A speed that will permit stopping within one half the range of vision so that the train will stop short of train, engine, railroad car, stop signal, derail or switch not properly lined, looking out for broken rail, not exceeding 20 MPH.
Restricted Track A track section where train speeds are reduced.
Retainer A device added to the braking device on a car, to allow a portion of the air pressure to be retained in the brake cylinder of a car to help restrict the movement of a train on severe downgrades.
Retarder Braking system usually found in hump yards. Commonly pneumatically actuated, located on inside of rail, forcing a brake pad against the inside of the wheel flange, "pinching" the flange between the brake pad and the rail.
Retarder Yard See Hump.
Re-triggerable One-Shot Timing feature where the off-delay is a fixed time interval, but can be reset by a change in input.
Return Movement The movement of an uncoupled engine, engines, or leading portion of a train, directed back toward the remaining stationary portion of the same train.
Revenue Collection Train A train which picks up the revenue collected by the railroad clerk.
Reverse Movement A movement opposite the direction previously authorized.
Reversing A station where train reverses direction of travel . May be at normal dead end or terminal station.
Ribbon Rail Continuous welded rail, usually in 1/4 mile lengths.
Rider A paying passenger.
Ridin' 'Em High Traveling on tops of boxcars.
Ridin' The Rods An old-time hobo practice, now virtually obsolete. The hobo would place a board across truss rods under a car and ride on it. This was very dangerous even in pleasant weather, and the possibility was ever present that you might doze, get careless, become too cramped, or lose your nerve-and roll under the wheels.
Riding The Point Riding a locomotive, point referring to shape of pilot.
Right-Hand Side Engineer's side of cab (on nearly all North American roads). Left-hand side is fireman's side. When a fireman is promoted he is set up to the right-hand side.
Right-of-Way (RoW) 1) The land on which a railroad is built. 2) The precedence given to one train to proceed before another.
Ringmaster Yardmaster.
Riprap Loose pieces of heavy stone or masonry used in some places to protect roadbeds from water erosion.
Rip-Track 1) An area of the maintenance yard where equipment is repaired. Means "Repair-In-Place", as opposed to being sent to a car shop. 2) [MR] A few sections of track by a freight yard or on a shelf above the workbench.
Rivet Buster Boilermaker.
Road Bed A layer of earth or gravel which provides a foundation for ties and rail.
Road Engine Locomotive used regularly for mainline service.
Road Hog Any large motor vehicle on a highway, especially intercity trailer trucks and busses that cut into railroad freight and passenger revenue.
Road Names Names of various railroad companies in the United States and Canada. Also see Reporting Marks.
Road Unit A diesel locomotive built specifically for mainline service. the wheels and axles are of a more heavy duty design, and the gearing of the traction motors are more appropriate to the higher speeds.
Roadmaster Manager in charge of RoW for an operating entity, such as a division or branch. Reports are track workers, electricians, bridge & building crews, track foremen, etc.
Roadrailers The "transformers" of the intermodal world. In minutes, these over the road trailers can be equipped with rail trucks, allowing them to "morph" into railcars. Amtrak began a series of tests on RoadRailers back in 1991, and put them into regular service in 1996.
Road-Switcher A general-purpose diesel that can be used for both yard switching and road duties. Also called Hood Units.
Roadway Worker Any employee of a railroad, or of a contractor to a railroad.
Rolling Resistance Resistance that is made up of wheel friction, journal friction, and wind resistance. It is non recoverable.
Rolling Stock Freight and passenger cars.
Roof Garden Mallet-type locomotive or any helper engine on a mountain job. Sometimes called sacred ox.
Roofed Caught in close clearance.
Roughneck Freight brakeman.
Roundhouse A building shaped like a semicircle, usually surrounding a turntable, in which locomotives and other railroad equipment are inspected, cleaned, repaired and serviced.
Rotary Dumper A bulk unloading system that clamps an open car to a section of rail, then inverts the car to dump the contents into a bin.
Route-Mile The actual distance traveled over the tracks between two points.
RTR Ready to run. A model train that needs no assembly.
Rubber Switch A switch that remains set to whichever position forced to by cars trailing through it. Use to avoid split switches where reversing movements may occur on the switch. Also see Spring Switch.
Rubberneck Car Observation car.
Rule G Railroad work rule against the use of intoxicants.
Rules-In-Effect The specific operating rule or group of operating rule that govern the use of tracks, as designated in the Timetable.
Ruling Grade The point on a run at which the combination of grade and curve resistance makes the train pull hardest and, therefore, "rules" how heavy a load can be given to the locomotive.
Run The train to which a man is assigned is his run.
Run In Describes the action of the slack between the cars moving forward and hitting against the engine. A run out would be the opposite effect.
Run Light For an engine to run on the tracks without any cars.
Run Through Train that generally is not scheduled to add (pick up) or reduce (set out) railcars enroute.
Run Around 1) A switching maneuver in which the locomotive uncouples from its train, pulls ahead, backs past on an adjacent track, and moves forward to couple onto the rear of the train. 2) The track where the maneuver takes place. 3) If an employee is not called for work in turn, he/she may claim pay for the run which he/she missed. In such cases, it is said he has been given a "run-around."
Run Eight Highest controller position on EMD diesels; full speed.
Run-In 1) A collision. 2) An argument or fight.
Runner Locomotive engineer.
Running Board The walkway around the boiler of a steam engine ,along the roof of a car or along the sides of tank cars.
Running Gear All the components involved in allowing the movement of a railroad car, such as wheels, axles, axle boxes, springs and frames.
Running in Your Britches Slang for using the steam brake to retard forward motion. So named because it requires pulling the Johnson bar all the way back (into the engineer's lap on some engines) and applying enough steam to slow the train.
Running Through A Switch Entering a switch at the points. Opposite of "trailing through a switch".
Running Track A designated track on which movements may be made by signal indication or at Restricted Speed under the authority of an employee designated in the Timetable.
Runt Dwarf signal.
Run Through Train An expedited train that runs from origin to destination and bypasses classification yards, even when moving from one railroad to another.
Rust or Streak O' Rust Railroad.
Rust Pile Old locomotive.
Rustling The Bums Searching a freight train for hobos. In bygone days it was common practice for trainmen to collect money from freight-riding 'bos, often at the rate of a dollar a division.

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S

S.A.S.O. See Stand-Alone-Strike-Output System.
Saddle First stop of freight car, under the lowest grab iron.
Safety Cab Contemporary design for USA made current-generation loco cabs. Adopted by GE, following CN's "Draper Taper" cowl design.
Sandbox, Sand Dome Reservoir for traction sand on a locomotive.
Sandhog Laborer who works in a caisson tunneling under a river, boring either a railroad tunnel, subway, or highway tunnel.
Sap Same as brake club; also called the staff of ignorance. To set hand brakes is to sap up some binders.
Sawbones Company doctor.
Saw-by, Double Saw-by Maneuver used by two trains at meeting point, when train on siding is too long for the siding. Double saw-by is complicated maneuver allowing two trains that are both longer than the siding at meeting point to pass one another at that siding.
SBU Sense and Brake Unit.
Scab Non union member doing work usually contracted by railroads for railway union labor contracts.
Scale The size of things on a model railroad relative to a real railroad. For example in HO models are 1/87th full size.
Scenic Break A scenic break is a deliberate barrier to disguise the fact that the main line links two sections of a layout which either clash or should be widely separated. An example might be a rural landscape and a heavily populated city.
Schedule The part of the Timetable that prescribes class, direction, number, frequency, and times for movement of designated trains.
Scheduled Train A train designated by Timetable schedule.
Scissor Crossing Junction between two parallel railway tracks enabling trains to cross over from one to the other in either direction.
Scizzor-Bill Uncomplimentary term referring to yard or road brakemen and students in train service
Scoop Fireman's shovel. Also the step on front and rear ends of switch engines.
Scoot Shuttle train.
Scrap Iron Broken knuckle due to uncontrolled slack action in train or overly aggressive starting technique.
Scrap Pile Worn-out locomotive that is still in service.
Scratchbuilding Making a model from raw materials and parts, and not using kits.
Seashore Sand used in sand dome. Also applied to coal that is mixed with sand.
Seat Hog Passenger who monopolizes more than one seat in a car or station waiting room while others are standing. Such pests usually spread luggage, packages, or lunch over adjacent seats.
Second Person [AU] The second driver on the engine crew, or offsider. Performs duties similar to the brakeman in the US, but is also usually a qualified driver.  With generic craft structure, one can be assigned as either the driver or second person (offsider), depending upon qualifications.
Secret Works 1) Automatic air-brake application. 2) The draft timbers and drawbar of a car, when extracted by force. If only the drawbar is pulled out, you say, "We got a lung," but if the draft timbers come with it, you say, "We got the whole damn secret works".
Section One of two or more trains running on the same schedule, displaying signals or for which signals are displayed.
Section Hand A track worker.
Selective Compression When a larger building is modeled in a "short' form, by removing repetitive elements within a model to capture the original character in a smaller footprint.
Semaphore A movable blade or arm mounted on a mast used to signal trains whether the track ahead is clear.
Semi-Automatic Switch A hand-operated switch that is designed to be trailed through in either position. The switch points stay in the position last used.
Semi-Conductor Material used in electric traction rectifiers, whose electrical resistance depends on the direction of the applied voltage. Silicon and Germanium are typical examples.
Seniority Length of service relative to others.
Seniority Grabber Railroad employee who is glad when someone above him dies, gets killed, is fired, or resigns, so he can move up the seniority list to a better job.
Separation The sorting of mail sacks and parcels within the storage car before transferring to trucks
Service application Gradual speed reduction via air brakes.
Service Track Track on which engines take on coal and water.
Setting Up Loading a baggage car with mail and parcels according to a prearranged plan to facilitate rapid unloading at various stations along the line.
Setup Four to six hand trucks placed in formation beside the door of a storage car to facilitate the separation of the mail and parcels being unloaded.
Shack Brakeman, occupant of caboose. Shacks master is a conductor.
Shake 'Em Up Switching.
Shaking The Train Putting on air brakes in emergency.
Shanty 1) A caboose. 2) A small building.
Shay A type of geared steam locomotive used extensively in logging. The Shay had three cylinders driving a crankshaft geared to all the axles.
Shiner Brakeman's or switchman's lantern.
Shining Time Starting time.
Shock The effect of a sudden change in speed of a car, locomotive or train, or part of a train.
Shoo-fly Temporary track used to avoid an obstacle that blocks movement on the normal track section.
Shop Count Number of bad order railcars (loads/ empties) at a repair facility awaiting repair, or number of locomotives at a shop for repairs.
Short Flagging Protecting the rear of the train from an insufficient distance.
Short Line A small railroad, generally Class II.
Short Loads Cars consigned to points between division points and set out on sidings at their destinations. Also called shorts.
Short-Time Crew Crew working overtime but not yet affected by the sixteen-hour law. (See dogcatchers)
Shuffle To switch cars.
Shuffle The Deck Switch cars onto house tracks at every station you pass on your run.
Shunt 1) To switch to another track. 2) A track signaling system that uses the rail car wheels and axle to complete an electrical circuit between one rail and the other. The completion of this circuit is used as a signal that the train is present. The signal may be used to activate crossing arms or other train signals (also see Loss of Shunt).
Shunter [UK] Switch engine.
Shunting Boiler Switch engine.
Shuttle Train which gives a frequent return service over a short route.
Side Track An auxiliary to the main track.
Side-Door Pullman Boxcar used by hobos in stealing rides.
Siding An auxiliary track for storage, servicing of industries and lineside customers, or for trains to meet each other. A parallel siding that diverges from the main and rejoins it one train length or greater is called a Passing Siding. Single ended sidings are also called Spurs.
Sidings Blocked Auxiliary tracks normally used to meet or pass trains now used to hold trains or cuts of cars for spacing or staging at terminals.
Signal Means of controlling the movement of trains by warning or advising the engineer of the occupational state of the line ahead or intention to divert to another line.
Signal Aspect The appearance of a fixed signal conveying an indication as viewed from the direction of an approaching train, or the appearance of a cab signal conveying an indication as viewed by an observer in the cab.
Signal Box Tower or building housing equipment for operation of points and signals in a particular section of a route.
Signal Dolly Train that delivers supplies to towers.
Signal Indication The information conveyed by the signal aspect.
Signal Junction Box A wooden or metal box where power lines are connected to supply electricity to a crossing signal.
Signalman The man who controls the signals and authorizes the movements of trains on running lines.
Silo Sand storage tower for filling locomotive sand boxes.
Single Track A main track upon which trains are operated in both directions.
Single Track System Consists of a single track between two terminals.
Single-Car Test Device Is used to test the air brake equipment on car that is sent to a repair track.
Six-Footway Area between parallel railway tracks.
Skate A device for blocking car wheels.
Skew Bridge spans obliquely and is therefore longer than the square gap.
Skin Your Eye Engineer's warning to man on left side of cab when approaching curve.
Skipper The conductor.
Skyline Casing Sheet metal shroud on a steam locomotive covering the boiler top fittings.
Skyrockets Red-hot cinders from smokestack.
Slab Track rails laid on a continuous concrete or asphalt base instead of conventional sleepers and ballast, to minimize settlement and changes in alignment, this helps to reduce maintenance costs.
Slack Action The motion, forward or back, that one or more cars, locomotives, or parts of a train has without moving other coupled cars, locomotives, or parts of the train. Loose slack is the free movement or lost motion between parts of a train. Spring slack is the movement beyond the free or lost motion brought about through compressing the draft gear springs. Slack is necessary so as to start one car at a time and so that the train may be operated around curves and over high and low places.
Slave Driver 1) Yardmaster. 2) Any rawhider
Sleeper 1) Passenger car with sleeping accommodation. 2) [UK/EU] Crosstie. Wood, steel or pre-cast concrete beam for holding the rails to correct gauge and distributing the load imposed by passing trains. The sleepers are usually set in crushed rock or ballast.
Slide Fence A fence which is placed along trackage to warn of rock slides. If the fence is activated, it changes the aspect of the signals governing that block to Stop.
Sling Morse Work as telegraph operator.
Slip Coach [UK] A passenger car that was dropped from the rear of a through train, and coasted into a platform under control of a brakeman.
Slip Switch A piece of track-work that combines a crossing and four turnouts to permit trains to move from one track to the other, or to stay on the same track.
Slippery Track A highly greased track near the roundhouse or back shop where a newly rebuilt locomotive could be run in without going anywhere, and without calling an engine crew or pilot.
Slips Car or train of bananas.
Slow Board See Board.
Slug A weighted locomotive unit with traction motors but no diesel engine or generator. Generally used in yard duty where the switcher has enough horsepower, but not enough tractive force to push long strings of cars up a hump.
Slugs A shipment of magazines, catalogues, or automobile-license plates in small mail sacks weighing approximately 100 pounds each.
Smart Aleck Passenger conductor.
Smoke Box The section of a steam locomotive boiler at the forward end which houses the main steam pipes to the cylinders, exhaust pipe and stack.
Smoke or Smoke Agent Locomotive fireman. Smoker is engine or firebox. Smoking 'em or running on smoke orders is a dangerous method, now obsolete, of running a train from one station or siding to another without orders from the dispatcher. You moved cautiously, continually watching for the smoke of any train that might be approaching you on the same track.
Smokejack A chimney on a car or building.
Smoking to a Meet In steam service, pre-radio, making smoke to alert awaiting opposing train that you were approaching meeting point.
Smoke Lifters Deflectors mounted on a steam locomotive to force exhaust smoke up and away from the cab. Often called "elephant ears"; they were widely used outside North America.
Smoke Signals Early US term for a RR that had no signalling system. Therefore, the only warning of an opposing train was its smoke.
Snake A switchman belonging to the SUNA, the Switchman's Union of North America.
Snakehead A rail that comes loose from the ties and pierces the floor of a car. A fairly common accident with the strap-iron rails of the early 19th century.
Snap Push or pull with another engine. Snapper is the engine that does the pulling.
Snipe 1) One who builds or repairs railroad track. 2) The title of a track laborer or Gandy dancer. His boss is a king snipe.
Snoozer Pullman sleeping car.
Snow Plow Special vehicle propelled by, or attachment to, front of locomotive to remove snow from the track. The snow plow may be of simple wedge shape or rotary type.
Snow Shed Substantially built shed along the side of a mountain with sloping roof erected over the railway to provide a path for avalanches without blocking the line.
Snuff Dippers Coal-burning engines that burn lignite (which, on the Missouri Pacific at least, is the same color as snuff).
Soak Saturated locomotive.
Soda Jerker Locomotive fireman.
Soft Bellies Wooden frame cars.
Soft Plug Fusible plug in crown sheet of locomotive that is supposed to drop when water gets below top of sheet.
Soft-Diamond Special Coal train.
Solebar Longitudinal main frame, outer member of carriage or wagon under-frame, usually of channel section.
Soleplate 1) Longitudinal man frame member of a built up carriage bogie, usually of standard rolled steel section of pressings. 2) A plate inserted between the chairs and the sleeper at a pair of points to maintain the correct gauge and prevent any spreading of the gauge that might occur from the gradual enlargement of the spike holes in the wooden sleepers.
Solid Car A completely filled storage car containing sixty feet of mail and parcels, equal to a 100 per cent load.
Solid Track Track full of cars.
Spanish Girl [SL] Class 644 A1A-A1A GM/Macosa diesels. So called because of the land of their origin, Spain.
Spar The wooden pole used to shove cars into the clear when switching. (See stake).
Spark Arrester A device, usually in the form of a mesh or baffle plate fitted in the smoke box to prevent the emission of live coals and sparks from the chimney or smoke stack.
SPDT Single pole double throw. A type of electrical switch used in model railroading.
Special A train not shown in the working time table or pre-planned.
Speed Control A device on an engine which will cause a penalty application of the brakes if the engineer fails to reduce the train's speed to the speed required by the cab signal indication.
Speed Gauger Locomotive engineer.
Speeder Same as pop car.
Speedy Callboy.
Sperry Car Railroad car used by Sperry Rail Service to detect weakened or cracked rails.
Spike Square section heavy steel nail driven into wooden sleeper to affix flanged rail in position.
Spiked Switch A turnout permanently secured against movement by spiking the movable rails to the ties.
Spike A Torch Throw a fusee
Split Switch One or more car wheels follows one switch path while the others follow the other, generally resulting in a derailment.
Spot 1) To place a car in a designated position. 2) Sleep, rest or lunch period on company time. To be "on the spot" means an opportunity for railroad men to chew the rag or swap experiences.
Spotboard Guide used by section men in surfacing or ballasting track in order to obtain an even bed.
Spotter Spy, company man assigned to snoop around and check on employees.
Spring Switch A switch held in one position by a spring so that facing-point traffic always takes the same route but trailing-point traffic can run through the turnout from either track. The switch is equipped with a spring mechanism to restore the switch points to their original position after having been trailed through.
Spur Short, usually dead-end section of track used to access a facility or loading/ unloading ramp. It can also be used to temporarily store equipment or be a branch line over which irregular service is offered. As distinguished from the side track, a spur track is of indefinite length, extending out from the main line.
Squeezers See Retarder.
Squirreling Climbing a car.
Stabling Accommodation for a short period of time.
Stack O' Rust A locomotive that has seen better days.
Staff Wooden stick or metal rod which was carried by a train traveling on a single-track block. In 20th century practice, the staff had to be inserted into a locked cabinet on exiting a block, to clear the signals for other traffic.
Stagger Interlacing of sleepers at switches and crossing or, making rail joints in one running rail not to coincide with those in other rail.
Stake 1) Pole used in dangerous and now rare method of switching. A cut of cars was shoved by a stake attached to the car immediately in front of the engine. This method was supposed to be superior to the ordinary method of "batting them out" because there was less wear and tear on drawbars and less damage to freight; but the human casualties that resulted gave more than one yard the nickname "slaughterhouse." 2) The money a boomer saved on a job so he could resign and continue eating regularly while looking for another job.
Stake Driver Any engineering-department man.
Stall 1) A space for a locomotive in a roundhouse. 2) Space inside a mail or baggage car containing mail or parcels consigned to a certain destination and separated from other shipments by removable steel posts.
Stand-Alone-
Strike-Out
Train detecting system that is independent of other signaling systems on the track, and is designed to verify that a train has cleared a section of track, typically a highway crossing. The system then generates a signal to allow the crossing arms to rise.
Standard Gauge 1) Most common distance between rails in a country. 2) A three rail tin plate train manufactured by Lionel and others.
Standing Cut A term for making a cut of cars by walking to the cut to be made rather than pulling the cut to you.
Stargazer Brakeman who fails to see signals.
Starter Signal Signal in British practice which gives authority to a train to proceed into a block section.
Starvation Diet See board.
Station A place designated on the station pages of the Timetable by name.
Station Way A small station with a passing track only.
Steam Chest A box containing the valve mechanism for the cylinders of a steam locomotive.
Stem Track or right-of-way.
Stem Winder 1) A staff brake which consists of a vertical rod and a wheel at the top of the rod for the leverage to wrap the brake chain around the vertical rod to stop or secure the car. A pawl was provided to hold the brake applied. 2) A Climax type of geared locomotive. 3) Applied to trolley car without brakes because of the motion of its brake handle.
Stephenson Valve Gear The mechanism that controls the movement of the steam distribution valve of a steam locomotive. Stephenson Valve Gear (link motion) is a valve gear in which the steam lead is greatest at mid-gear and greatest at full forward. Walschaert Valve Gear is a valve gear in which the lead is constant at any position of the reversing gear.
Stick See Staff
Stiff Buggy Specially designed four-wheel truck used for transferring coffins and rough boxes inside a station.
Stinger Brakeman. Derived from initial B(ee) of Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, or perhaps from some brakemen's habit of arousing hobos by applying a brake club to the soles of their shoes.
Stink Buggy Bus.
Stinker Hotbox.
Stirrup First step of freight car, under the lowest grab iron.
Stock Car American term for vehicle used for the conveyance of cattle.
Stock Pen Yard office.
Stockholder Any employee who is always looking out for the company's interests.
Stopper Puller Member of the crew that follows the engine in switching.
Storage Car Baggage car or (in rush periods) Railway Express car containing a mixed shipment of parcels and mail sacks consigned to a certain terminal for sorting and rerouting to various destinations via other trains.
Straw Boss Foreman of small gang or acting foreman.
Strawberry Patch 1) Rear end of caboose by night. 2) A railroad yard studded with red lights.
Straw-Hat Boys Railroad men who work only in pleasant weather.
Streamlining In steam locomotives, the practice of shrouding all or part of the loco with sheet metal. Gave rise to the term "Streamliner", meaning a fast, luxurious passenger train.
Stretch 'Em Out Take out slack in couplings and drawbars of train.
Strike-in, Strike-out A signaling system that warns of an approaching train (to a road crossing, for instance), which also determines when the train has completely cleared the crossing (passed through).
String 1) Several cars coupled together. 2) A telegraph wire.
Struggle For Life Existence in railroad boardinghouse.
Stub A short diverging track ending in a bumper, it has a switch only at one end
Stub Axle Short non-revolving axle which supports only one wheel.
Stud Contact In model railroading it is similar to 3-rail, but the conductor rail is replaced by a row of energized studs along the center of the track. A long collector skate on the locomotive picks up current. Used by Marklin and in O gauge.
Student Learner in either telegraph, train, or engine service; an apprentice.
Student Tallow Student fireman.
Styrene Short for polystyrene, a plastic commonly used for modeling. Comes in sheets, blocks, and rods of many different thickness and sizes.
Subdivision A portion of a division designated by timetable.
Subsidiary A company owned by another company that controls a majority of its stock.
Suck It By Make a flying switch.
Sugar Sand.
Sun Kink A section of rail that elongates and bends out of alignment due to heat expansion.
SUNA Initials of Switchmen's Union of North America.
Super Superintendent.
Superelevation Amount by which one rail of a curved track is raised above the other. Superelevation is 'positive' when the outer rail is higher than the inner rail and 'negative' when the inner rail is higher than the outer.
Superheater A device for raising the temperature and volume of the steam after it leaves the boiler through the application of additional heat.
Superintendent A chief executive officer, who supervises and directs operations over an entire division. He is responsible for the supply and maintenance of rolling stock, equipment, the right of way, and for the prompt handling of traffic.
Superior Train A train having precedence over another train.
Suspension Connecting system, including springs, between vehicle wheel and body, designed to give best possible riding qualities by keeping unsprung weights to a minimum and reducing shock loadings on track.
Swellhead Conductor or locomotive engineer.
Swing A brakeman who has responsibility for breaking up the train by setting out cars or sections of cars in the center position of a freight train.
Swing A Bug Make a good job of braking. (See bug)
Swing Man Supplementary brakemen added to a crew for all or part of a trip, perhaps to give more hand brake capacity in mountainous territory, or for other reasons.
Switch 1) Track switch, turnout: a device to diverge cars/trains to another track. Consists of point rails, frog, closure rails (between points and frog), and stock (outside) rails. Point rails are operated by a switch stand, ground throw, or switch machine. 2) A device for opening and closing an electrical circuit.
Switch List 1) A yard crew's list of cars and their intended tracks. 2) Bill of fare at railroad eating house. See Beanery.
Switch Machine A mechanical device which will change the position of a turnout. It can be used manually or by remote control from a control panel.
Switch Monkey Switchman.
Switch Point Indicator A light type indicator used in connection with facing point movement over certain switches to indicate switch points fit properly.
Switch stand A mechanical device (usually done manually) which will change the position of a turnout, and simultaneously change the position of the signal mounted on top of the switch stand.
Switchback A method of climbing a steep grade in a confined area. This is accomplished with a series of switches requiring the train to change direction as it climbs up the side of a mountain on a series of switchbacks.
Switching Movement of freight cars between two nearby locations or trains.
Switching District An area where shippers have access to many railroads through a terminal.
Switching railroad Also called a terminal railroad. These railroads move freight in a limited area between shippers and a terminal where freight is transferred to long haul railroads.
Swizzle Valve Automatic compression-relief valve on steam cylinders which opens the cylinder to atmosphere when throttle is shut off, preventing a leaky throttle from causing a parked engine to creep. Engine crew can also manually open the valve by stepping on it.
Synchronous Motor AC electric motor whose speed varies in direct proportion to the frequency of the supply.

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T

Tag Reader Automatic Equipment Identification (AEI) to identify a specific rail car.
Tail Over Her Back Engine with full head of steam, with plume resembling a squirrel's tail from her safety valve.
Tailring At a signaled crossing, tailring refers to the actuation of the crossing after the train has passed through the crossing (a signaling error).
Take The Rubber Out Of Them Disconnect the air hoses on a train.
Taking Your Minutes Stopping for lunch.
Tallowpot Locomotive fireman, so called from melted tallow used to lubricate valves and shine the engine
Tangent Track Straight track.
Tank Locomotive tender.
Tanker Freight car designed to carry liquids or gases in a tank like container.
Tank Engine A steam locomotive that carries its fuel and water supply in tanks hung over or alongside the boiler, or on a frame extension at the rear, instead of in a tender.
Tare Weight The weight of an empty car.
Tariff A published schedule showing rates, fares, charges, classification of freight, rules, and regulations applying to various kinds of transportation and incidental services.
T-Box A wooden or metal box which contains a telephone that can be used by the train crew to call the dispatcher.
TCS Traffic Control System.
TCU Transportation Communications International Union, represents clerks, carmen, yardmasters, and supervisors.
Teakettle Old locomotive, especially a leaky steam locomotive.
Team Track A spur or siding for loading cars which serves any customer wishing to use. Often has a driveway or other area for vehicles to transfer loads. Name comes from the fact that these tracks were first built for transloading cargo from wagon teams to box cars.
Tease The Brute Follow the engine.
Telemetry The information that an End Of Train device transmits to the engine.
Telltales Any device that serves as a warning. Specifically the row of strips hanging down a short distance in front of a tunnel or low bridge to inform trainmen who are riding car tops that they'd better duck.
Temple Of Knowlege Term for caboose.
Temporary Block Station (TBS) A manned station that is established by Bulletin Order or Form D to control the movement of trains.
Tender A car, attached to a steam locomotive, that carries extra fuel and water for the locomotive.
Terminal Facilities provided by a railroad at a terminus or at any intermediate point on its line for the handling of passengers or freight, and for the breaking up, making up, forwarding and servicing trains, and interchanging with other carriers.
Terminal Load A shipment of mail consigned to a certain R.P.O. terminal office for sorting and reshipment in other sacks.
Terminal Railroad Also called a Switching railroad. These railroads move freight in a limited area between shippers and a terminal where freight is transferred to long haul railroads.
Terminating line haul road The last railroad over which any shipment travels.
Terminating Station The last station on each subdivision to which a train is authorized to occupy the main track.
Terminus 1) The main station at the beginning or end of a mainline.2) The home terminal of a railroad. For example, the terminus of the Southern Pacific was San Francisco, and all mileposts were measured from there. UP's main terminal was Omaha.
The Biscuits Hang High There's a scarcity of food handouts in that locality.
Third Rail A continuous rail placed alongside the running rails to supply electric current for electrically powered trains.
Thirty Telegraphic term for "that's all-no more".
Thousand-Miler Black satin or blue percale shirt worn by railroaders, expected to last 1,000 miles between washings. (The usual basis of a day's work was about 100 miles, so two shirts could easily last from one pay day to the next).
Three-Bagger Train pushed or pulled by three engines.
Three-Step Protection A procedure used for the protection of workers going on, under, or between cars.
(1) Apply the brake.
(2) Center the reverser.
(3) Put the generator field switch in OFF or OPEN position.
Three-Way Point or switch making connections to three alternative tracks.
Throat Entrance tracks to a terminal or yard.
Throttle The speed control of the locomotive.
Throttle God Engineer.
Throttle-Jerker Engineer.
Through freight train An express freight train between major terminals.
Throw Away The Diamonds Term applied to locomotive fireman missing the fire door with a shovel full of coal and spilling some.
Throw it in the hole Apply emergency brakes.
Throw Out The Anchor Done for the day.
Tie A cross member made of wood, steel or concrete placed between the rails to keep the rails at correct gauge and to distribute the weight of the load on the track. Also called "sleeper" in Europe.
Tie 'Em Down Set handbrakes.
Tie On Couple on. Tie 'em together is to couple cars.
Tie Plate The steel shoes in which the rail sits when spiked to a wooden tie.
Tie Up Stop for a meal or for rest.
Tier Pile of mail sacks or parcels occupying the full width at each end of a car.
Tight On Power Power is adequate to protect departures, but some delays may occur due to late arrival and servicing of locomotives.
Timetable The authority for the movement of regular trains subject to the rules. It may contain classified schedules and includes special instructions.
Timkenized Equipped with Timken roller bearings.
Tin Hats Prototype railroad V.I.P.'s.
Tin Lizard Streamlined train.
Tin Plate Commonly only associated with toy trains that do not conform to a scale. The name 'tin plate' originated during the 1800's when many an early model, crude or otherwise, was fashioned out of tin.
Ting-A-Ling Small engine with "tinny" bell.
Tipping Freight car with facility for unloading contents by tilting the body.
Tire Hardened steel wheel rim on which the flange and tread profile is formed. A RR car can have a "flat tire", when brakes lock and the wheel slides. Tires are replaced by chilling the wheel, knocking off the damaged tire and applying a heated replacement.
Tissue Train order. (See Flimsy)
Toad Derail. (See Rabbit)
Toe Tip of switch rail at the end which fits against the stock rail.
Toe Boards Walkway or running boards on the roof of a car.
Towpath That part of railroad embankment lying between end of ties and shoulders of fill.
TOFC Trailer-on-flatcar. An intermodal system for transporting truck trailers on flatcars.
Token 1) Authority for train to enter single line section. Of different forms including wooden staff, electric staff, tablet, key token. 2) Used to show payment of fare such as on a subway system.
Tongue Switch blade or rail.
Tonk Car repairer.
Ton-Mile One ton of freight moved one mile.
Tonnage Hound Trainmaster or other official who insists upon longer or heavier trains than the crew and motive power can handle efficiently.
Tonnage Is Current No trains holding, switching is current, no delays expected to traffic, resources are adequate to protect operations.
Tons of Operative Brake (TOB) The measurement calculated by dividing the gross trailing tonnage of a train (not including the locomotive) by the total number of cars with operative brakes.
Tons per Operative Brake Gross trailing tonnage of the train (not including locomotives) divided by the total number of cars having operative brakes.
Top Dresser Drawer Upper bunk in caboose.
Torpedo Explosive cap fastened to the top of the rail and exploded by the pressure of a rolling wheel to warn engineer of danger ahead. Usually placed in multiples to sound a pattern.
Tower 1) Signal box. 2) A manned control center, usually at a junction for operating an interlocking, or at a yard for controlling train movements. 3) Electric locomotive, so called for its pivoting arrangement. 4) A device such as a pantograph for making contact and drawing power from overhead trolley wires.
Tower Buff Railfan so zealous that he disregards signs such as "Private," "No Admittance" and "Stay Out" on interlocking towers and other railroad structures.
Track Barricade A designated sign or obstruction fastened to a track which prevents access to the track.
Track Bulletin A notice containing information as to track conditions or other conditions, necessary for the safe operation of trains or engines.
Track Car Equipment, not classified as an engine, which is operated on track for inspection or maintenance. It may not shunt track circuits or operate signals and will be governed by rules and special instructions for trains other than passenger trains.
Track Circuit An electrical circuit of which the rails of the track form a part. The track circuit is the basis of signaling systems.
Track Gauge The distance between the inner faces of the track heads.
Track Head The top of the track on which the wheels roll.
Track Permit A form used to authorize occupancy of the main track where designated by special instructions.
Track Side Warning Detector Wayside detectors which are provided at various locations as shown in the timetable which detect such conditions as overheated journals, dragging equipment, excess dimensions, shifted loads, high water and slides.
Track Signal A signaling system that uses the rail for transmitting signals. These signals may be used to warn of an approaching train and lower crossing arms for instance, or also to warn the engineer of a train on the track ahead.
Track Warrant Control (TWC) A method of authorizing the movements of trains or engines or protecting men or machines on a main track within specified limits in territory designated by special instructions or general order.
Track Web The thin section of track between the base and the head.
Trackage Rights An agreement between two railroads according to which, one railroad buys the right to run its trains on the tracks of the other, and usually pays a toll for the privilege. That toll is called a "wheelage" charge. This type of agreement dose not allow the pick up or delivery of freight along those tracks however.
Trackside Along a railroad track or the side of an object closest to the track.
Traction 1.)Eelectrically powered railroads, especially city and interurban trolley lines. 2.) A locomotive's grip on the rails.
Traction Motor The electric motor that drives a locomotive axle. Not a "traction engine", which is a steam-powered agricultural machine.
Tractive Force The amount of force at the driving wheel rims needed to start and move tonnage up various grades.
Trailer 1) A cargo-carrying highway vehicle without automotive power. 2) A coach or other passenger car pulled by any self propelled passenger car, such a an electric interurban car or a DMU.
Trailing Switch One with the points facing in the opposite direction from the flow of traffic.
Trailing Truck A rear locomotive truck with two or four wheels.
Train One or more engines coupled, with or without cars, displaying a marker and authorized to operate on a main track.
Train Approach System Train-detection system that warns of a train approaching a highway crossing, for instance. A signal is typically sent to activate the crossing warning arms (see Strike-in).
Train Brake The combined brakes on locomotive and cars that provide the means of controlling the speed and stopping of the entire train.
Train Line A cable or series of hoses used for connecting air, electrical and/or steam between loco and cars.
Train of Superior Class A train given precedence by time table.
Train of Superior Direction A train given precedence in the direction specified in the time table as between opposing trains of the same class.
Train of Superior Right A train given precedence by train order.
Train Order A written order on a form which gives directions for train movements not on the schedule. Train orders usually come from the dispatcher.
Train Order Signal Fixed signal near the entrance to a river tube, bridge or at stations with moving platforms. Two lunar white mean Proceed without orders according to rules, two red mean Stop, stay and call for orders.
Train Register A book or form used at designated stations for registering time of arrival and departure of trains, and such other information as may be prescribed.
Trainmaster An executive officer who supervises train service operations on one or more divisions or on part of a division. He also supervises the operation of trains at terminals and in yard service. He reports directly to the superintendent.
Trains Blocked On Line Trains stopped between primary terminals and switched to further define the car blocks and to facilitate handling at the destination terminal.
Trains Drug Out Trains moved from origin yard to a siding between terminals to make room in the yard to continue to build trains.
Trains Flagging When a train crew has authority granted by a dispatcher to "flag" past a signal that is in stop indication due to a defect/event.
Trains Held Out The number of trains held on line (out) due to lack of room in the destination yard. When a yard's receiving tracks are occupied, the terminal "holds trains out."
Trains Holding A count of trains being held either for congestion or for a Maintenance of Way curfew. Trains holding also can refer to the HDC Trains Held Report, used to track trains that are not run on schedule due to a critical resource, such as power, crew or track congestion.
Trains Laid Down Trains with no arrival plan for a terminal. The crews have been removed and power has likely been removed.
Trains Processed Number of trains operated through a defined area or terminal during a specified time period.
Trains Slotted Number of trains a terminal can process in a given period of time, usually every 24 hours.
Trains Spacing Time spacing in which a terminal/ subdivision can handle trains, such as one coal train every 30 minutes, one manifest every hour.
Trains Staging Trains holding at a point on line for release to move into a terminal.
Trains Tied Down Trains holding on line for relief crews, Maintenance of Way curfew, slot/spacing into a terminal. Power is usually still on the trains.
Trains Walking When a track defect, such as a broken rail, has been determined by the Engineering Department to be passable at "walking speed."
Trains Yarded Number of trains a terminal has yarded in a 24-hour period.
Tram and Tramway Another term for a railway of limited, dedicated use. For example, a streetcar or industrial line with no car interchange with other railroads. More popular term in Europe.
Tramcar Streetcar electrically operated public service passenger vehicle on rails in the street.
Trampified The way a boomer looked after being out of work a long time. His clothes were "ragged as a barrel of sauerkraut" and he needed a "dime's worth of decency" (shave)
Transformer A device for changing high voltage AC into low voltage AC. In model railroading now called a power supply.
Transition Curve A curve that gradualy increases or decreases. Also called an easement.
Traveling Card 1) Card given by a railroad Brotherhood to a man in search of employment. 2) An empty slip bill.
Traveling Grunt Road foreman of engines, traveling engineer. Sometimes called traveling man.
Trestle A wooden bridge structure of regularly placed bents.
Triangle Additional track laid at a major junction to allow trains to be turned by running the three sides of the triangle rather than reversing in a wye. Found outside major terminal stations where fixed passenger sets need to be turned to equalize flange wear and ensure that cars are facing forwards.
Trick A work shift or hours of duty.
Trim Lead Track used to move cars from the bowl (sorting tracks) to the departure yard, where sorted cars are coupled into an outbound train.
Trimmed Count of cars that are sorted in a hump yard.
Trimmer Engine working in hump yard that goes down into yard and picks out misdirected cars and shoves them to clear. (See yard and hump)
Triple Valve An operating valve for charging the reservoir and applying and releasing the brake.
Trolley Slang for a streetcar which collects power from an overhead line via a troller (wheel or slider). The "trolley" is actually the pole and troller assembly.
Truck A swiveling set of wheels mounted at either end of a rail car. Assembly holding a group of two or more wheelsets together beneath a car. A wheelset is a pair of wheels connected by an axle.
Truck Hunting The rapid oscillation of an empty car truck at high speeds, in which the flanges tend to ride up on the head of the rail.
Trunk A main line or route of a railroad from which other lines branch off.
Tunnel Motor A diesel-electric loco configured for operating in tunnels by having lowered engine air inlets to collect more fresh air.
Turbine A rotary engine consisting of blades or fans attached to a central shaft which are turned by hot, expanding gases.
Turn-Around A train run from a terminal to an intermediate station and returned to that terminal in one work shift. Also called simply a "turn".
Turnout A term for a switch, European in origin. The diverging angle of a turnout is measured in numbers. For example, a no. 6 turnout, (sharp in prototype use, but common on model railroads,) spreads one foot for each six feet of forward travel measured from the frog.
Turntable A rotating steel or wooden bridge, used to turn locomotives or cars, and/or to align them with the tracks in the engine house or roundhouse.
Two-Wheeler Two-wheeled hand truck for transferring baggage and mail around in a station.
Tyre [UK] see Tire.

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U

U.I.C. European Rail Association
Uncle Sam Railway Post Office clerk.
Uncoupling lever Also called a cut lever. The device which raises the locking pin in a coupler to allow the knuckle to open for uncoupling.
Under The Table Just as a man who "can't take his liquor" is sometimes actually under the table, so, figuratively, is a telegraph operator when messages are being sent to him faster than he can receive.
Underframe Framework or structure which supports the body of a rail car.
Undergrade Bridge (UG) Any point where the trackage crosses above any railroad, automotive, or pedestrian right of way, or stream.
Underground Hog Chief engineer.
Undesired Emergency (UDE) An undesired emergency application of a train's air brake system. (Also known as "Dynamiter" or "Kicker".)
Unit A single locomotive or two or more locomotives that are coupled together and operated by one engineer.
Unit Train A freight train consisting of one type of freight car, usually hopper cars for carrying coal or grain. Unit trains are seldom, broken up, and tend to operate continuously from loading to unloading point.
Unload Get off train hurriedly.
Up-Line Line over which trains normally travel towards the headquarters of the railway company.
Up-Train One which travels on or in the direction of the up line.
USRA United States Railway Administration. The USRA took over and operated American Railroads during World War I. It was responsible for certain long lasting and "standard" locomotive designs.

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V

Valve Gear The mechanism that controls the movement of the steam distribution valve of a steam locomotive. Stephenson Valve Gear (link motion) is a valve gear in which the steam lead is greatest at mid-gear and greatest at full forward. Walschaert Valve Gear is a valve gear in which the lead is constant at any position of the reversing gear.
Van 1) Covered vehicle for conveyance of luggage or goods. 2) A caboose.
Vanderbilt Tender A distinctive tender with a cylindrical water tank. The rectangular oil or coal bunker is perched at the forward end.
Variable Reluctance A type of railcar wheel detector containing a coil or wire and permanent magnet which generates an electrical pulse if a train wheel approaches rapidly. This type of sensor cannot detect a wheel which is stopped over the sensor. A voltage is induced in the coil as ferrous metal approaches or recedes. The signal takes on a sine wave shape, and characteristics are dependent upon approach speed.
Variable Switch A switch, designated by letter "V" or a yellow bowl, when trailed through the switch points remain lined in the position to which forced.
Varnish A passenger train, so called because wooden passenger cars used to have many coats of varnish.
Vaseline Oil.
Vestibule 1) Closed cab on steam locomotives to protect the engineer and fireman from inclement weather. It includes doors and diaphragm connection to tender. 2) Vestibule Cab: The enclosed area at the end of a passenger car where the side doors are located.
VIA Rail Canada's national passenger rail service, based on the Amtrak idea in 1976. A government corporation, VIA Rail owns some terminal trackage and depots; operations are conducted over the rails of CN and CP. www.via.ca
Volt A unit of electrical pressure. Commonly, 0-9 volts of D.C. is used for "Z" scale model railroading, 0-14 volts D.C. is used for "HO" gauge, and 0-20 volts D.C. is used for large scale model railroading.
Voltage Electromotive force (analogous to a pressure) measured in volts.
Voodoo Barge Updated heavy, slow freight.

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W

Wabash 1) To hit cars going into adjacent tracks. (See cornered) 2) Also refers to the officially frowned-upon practice of slowing up for a stop signal at a crossing with another railroad instead of stopping.
Wagon European term for a railway vehicle used for conveying goods.
Walk the Dog Run a train fast enough for the high cars to sway from side to side.
Walk Up Against The Gun Ascend a steep grade with the injector on.
Wall Street Notch Forward corner of reverse lever quadrant in engine cab (more commonly called company notch). Called Wall Street notch because engine pays dividends when heaviness of train requires engine to be worked that way.
Washout 1) When a flood or a flash flood washes away ballast and roadway under track. 2) An emergency stop signal, waved violently by using both arms and swinging them in downward arc by day, or swinging lamp in wide low semicircle across tracks at night.
Watch Your Pins Be careful around stacks of ties, rails, etc.
Water Column A standing pipe adjacent to the track connected to a water supply for filling steam locomotives.
Way Car A freight car carrying local shipments.
Way Freight A train serving local customers.
Waybill The document that specifies such freight-shipping details as final destination, routes and shipping companies.
Wearing Blue Delayed by car inspectors. A blue flag or blue light is placed on cars thus delayed and being worked on.
Wearing Green Locomotive carrying green markers. When a scheduled train runs in more than one section, all except the last must display green flags or green lights.
Weathering Making shiny models look more realistic by painting them to show the effects of use.
Weed Bender Railroaders' derisive term for cowboy, other such terms being hay shaker, clover picker, and plow jockey. Commonest term for cowboy is cowpuncher, which is of railroad origin. Cowboys riding stock trains prod the cattle.
Weed Weasel Company official spying on crews.
Weedburner Flame thrower vehicle which rides on the tracks and is used to kill weeds along the track right-of way.
Westinghouse Air brake, also called windjammer.
Wet Mule In The Firebox Bad job of firing a locomotive.
Whale Belly Steel car, or type of coal car with drop bottom. Also called sow belly.
Wheel Run a train at speed.
Wheel Detection Sensing of rail wheel with metal sensor, or track circuit.
Wheel 'Em Let a train run without braking. Wheeling means carrying or hauling at good speed; also called highballing. You say wheeling the berries when you mean hauling the berry crop at high speed.
Wheel Knocker Car inspector.
Wheel Monkey Car inspector.
Wheel Pull Caused by the friction between the brake shoe and the wheel and transmitted to the rail.
Wheel Rolling The wheel rotating on its axle theoretically without motion existing between the wheel and the rail at the area of contact.
Wheel Set Pair of wheels secured to an axle.
Wheel Sliding The wheel not rotating on its axle and motion existing between the wheel and rail at the area of contact.
Wheel Slipping The wheel rotating on its axle with motion existing between the wheel and rail at the area of contact.
When Do You Shine? What time were you called for?
Whiskers Age or seniority.
Whistle Out A Flag Engineer blows one long and three short blasts for the brakeman to protect rear of train.
Whistle Post A post marked "W" that marks an upcoming grade crossing, at a distance sufficient to warn traffic at the allowable track speed. Slower trains may delay whistling until closer to the crossing.
Whistle Signals
* = short blast
- = long blast
Meaning
* apply brakes, stop
* * answer to any signal not otherwise provided for
* * * when standing, back
* * * * call for signals
- test train brakes
- - release train brakes
- - - when running, stop at next passenger station
- - - when standing, train parted
- - - - recall flagman from south or west
- - - - - recall flagman from north or east
- * * calling attention to another train whose signals are displayed for a following section
- * * * flagman protect the rear of train
* * * - flagman protect the front of train
- - * approaching meeting or waiting points
- - * - approaching crossing at grade
- * * - answer to yellow temporary reduced speed flag placed 1 1/2 miles in advance of restricted tracks
White Feather Plume of steam over safety valves, indicating high boiler pressure.
White Ribbons White flags (an extra train).
Whitewash Milk.
Whiting Hoist A type of jack system, utilizing four hoists to lift the frame of a steam locomotive off of it's running gear.
Whyte System F. M. Whyte's system of classification is used to describe the wheel arrangement of conventional steam locomotives. In this system, the first number is the number of leading wheels, and the last is the number of trailing wheels. The middle number (or numbers) give the number and arrangement of drivers. A "T" at the end indicates a tank engine.
Widen On Her Open the throttle, increase speed.
Wigwag A grade crossing signal, which utilizes a swinging target with a central red light to attract a driver's attention.
Wildcat A runaway locomotive.
Willie Waybill for loaded car.
Wind Air brakes.
Windows Same as curfew, but also can mean holding trains for things other than Maintenance of Way curfews, such as operating passenger trains.
Windy A slang term for a car going down a track with no air or hand brake applied.
Wing Her Set brakes on moving train.
Wing Rail A continuous running rail that forms the obtuse angle of a diamond crossing. Also a running rail from switch heel towards nose which is then set to form check rail past nose of common crossing.
Wise Guy Station agent.
Wolf or Lone Wolf Non-brotherhood man.
Work Train A train engaged in company service for which no revenue is received.
Work the Water Some old-time engineers preferred to work the water (operate the injector and watch the water glass or gauge cocks). On most roads the fireman now works the water.
Working A Car Unloading a storage mail car.
Working Mail Mail in sacks and pouches consigned to R.P.O. (Railway Post Office) cars to be "worked" or sorted in transit.
Worm Gear A gear with slightly slanted or dished teeth to mesh with the worm. In model railroading the worm gear is usually mounted on the driving axle.
Wrecking Crew Relief crew. Derogatory term derived from the difficulty regular men sometimes experience in rearranging a car after it has been used by relief men.
Wrong Iron Main track on which the current of traffic is in the opposite direction.
Wye A track with three switches and three legs forming a large triangle which enables an entire train to turn around.

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X

X Empty car.
XXX Same as bad order.

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Y

Y Switch A switch that turns off at both sides, but not straight ahead.
Yard A system of tracks within defined area limits for the making up of trains, storing of cars, and for other purposes. (Boomer's version "System of rust surrounded by fence and inhabited by a dumb bunch of natives who will not let a train in or out.")
Yard Engine An engine assigned to yard service.
Yard Limits The main track area between Yard Limit signs as designated in the Timetable. Movements of trains must be made at Restricted Speed within Yard Limits.
Yardmaster A railroad employee in charge of a yard operation.
Yellow Eye A slang term for a yellow signal.

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Z

Zamac Trade name for zinc-aluminum alloy die-casting metal used widely for pressure die-casting in model trains.
Zoo Keeper Gate tender at a passenger station.
Zulu Emigrant family with its household goods and farm equipment traveling by rail; sometimes included even livestock crowded into the same boxcar. Zulu can mean only the car, or the car and all its contents. This method of travel was not uncommon in homesteading days on Western prairies. Origin of term is obscure. May have some connection with the fact that European homesteaders in Africa fled in overfilled farm wagons before Zulu marauders.