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Below you will find many of the terms associated with Steam Era freight cars (along with some misnomers that we hope to correct and eradicate from the popular lexicon). If you find that a phrase or term is absent, please let us know via email at, subject: Glossary. Thank you to Larry Grubb for his significant efforts in compiling this information.



"A" Car Roof - A car roof with straight car lines, meeting at a point like rafters in the center of the upper deck. (CBC)

"A" End - The opposite end of the freight car from where the brake shaft is located. (CBC)

Air Brake - Any system of braking in which the mechanism is actuated by the manipulation of air pressures exerted on different parts of the apparatus. In the US, this covers only brakes that employ air under pressures above atmospheric as distinguished from "vacuum brakes" which employ pressures below atmospheric. (CBC)

"AB" Brake Equipment - The name designated for the type of brake equipment made standard for new freight cars built after Sept. 1, 1933, rebuilt cars after Aug, 1, 1937 and compulsory in interchange after Jan. 1, 1945 (revised to xx/xx/xx) by the Board of Directorsof the AAR upon recommendations of the General Committee of the Mechanical Division. Replaces Type "K". (CBC)

Ajax Brake Wheel & Housing - The most common geared brake wheel and housing during the late Steam Era.

Angle Cock - A special type of valve located at both ends of the brake pipe. The free opening is threaded to receive the air connecting hose nipple.

Arch Bar Truck - see Diamond Arch Bar Truck

Automatic Air Brake - An air brake system in which the brake will be applied automatically in case of an accident that permits air to escape from the system. (CBC)

Automobile Car - A box car for carrying automobiles and having exceptionally large side doors (usually double) at least 10 ft. wide and sometimes end doors. Inside length is commonly 40ft. 6 in. or 50 ft. 6 in. and a clear height of at least 10 ft. Often fitted with automobile storing equipment. (CBC)

Automobile Parts Car - A box car specially fitted (usually with racking) for transportation of automobile parts. (CBC)

Auxiliary Reservoir - A reservoir for storage of a supply of compressed air to operate the brakes of each individual car, and supplied from the main reservoir on the engine through the brake pipe. (CBC)

Axle - The cylidrical steel shaft on which the car wheels are mounted. The axle not only holds the wheel to gage, but also transmits the load from the journal boxes to the wheels. (CBC)


"B" End - The end on which the brake shaft is located or the end toward which the brake cylinder piston points. (CBC)

Ballast Car - A car for carrying ballast for repair and construction work, usually of either the flat, gondola or hopper type.

Bell Crank - An L-shaped lever often with the two extremities connected so as to be of a triangular form, for chainging the direction of motion by ninety (90) degrees. (CBC)

Billing Repair Card - The card that, under AAR Interchange Rules, is furnished to the car owner when repair work is performed on a foreign road car. (CBC)

Body (of a Car) - The main or principal part in or on which the load is placed. (CBC)

Body Bolster - The transverse members of the underframe over the trucks that transmit the load carried by the longitudinal sills to the trucks through the center plates. (CBC)

Body Bolster Bottom Cover Plate - The bottom cover plate used on a bolster of the built-up type. (CBC)

Body Bolster Top Cover Plate - The top cover plate used on a body bolster of the built-up type. (CBC)

Body Bolster Web - A plate or casting forming the filling piece between the cover plates of a built-up body bolster. (CBC)

Body Framing - The framework of that part of a car above the underframe, so called to distinguish it from the underframe. It is commonly subdivided into the side, end and roof framing. (CBC)

Bolster - A cross member on the underside of a car body and in the center of a truck, through which the weight is transmitted. The bolsters carry the body and truck center plates, the body bolster resting on the truck bolster. Truck bolsters are either swing bolsters, admitting of lateral motion, or rigid bolsters, which permit no lateral motion. (CBC)

Box Car - A car with sides enclosed and having a roof; doors are placed in the sides or sides and ends. Used for general service and especially for lading that must be protected from the weather. (CBC)

Box Car Door - Used on both the sides of box cars and sometimes the ends of automobile cars. (CBC)

Brake or Brake Gear - The whole combination of parts by which the motion of a car or train is retarded or arrested. (CBC)

Brake Adjuster - A device for adjusting the slack in foundation brake rigging to compensate for brake shoe wear. (CBC)

Brake Balancer - A modification in the foundation brake rigging whereby the top of the dead lever is connected to the car body instead of to the truck bolster. The object of the device is to relieve the truck of unbalanced stress. (CBC)

Brake Beam - The immediate supporting structure for the two brake heads and two brake shoes acting upon any given pair of wheels. In freight service the practically universal type id of truss construction consisting primarily of tension and compression members fastened at the ends and separated at the middle by a strut or fulcrum to which the truck brake lever is attached. Brake beams are said to be either inside hung or outside hung, depending upon whether they are in the space between the axles or outside the axles. (CBC)

Brake Beam Strut - A post or distance piece made of forged steel, cast steel or malleable iron, between the tension and compression members of a brake beam. The truck brake lever is attached to it. Also called the brake lever fulcrum. (CBC)

Brake Beam Support - A special type of spring attched to the spring plank or other part of the truck and supporting the brake beam by means of a sliding chair casting which is attached to the brake beam. (CBC)

Brake Chain Connecting Rod - A rod connecting the hand brake chain to one of the brake levers, usually the floating lever or the cylinder lever. (CBC)

Brake Cylinder (Air Brake) - A cast-iron cyliner attached to the body frame or truck frame of a car, containing a piston that is forced outwardly by the compressed air to apply the brakes, and when the air pressure is released is returned to its normal position by a release spring coiled about the piston rod inside the cylinder. For older freight cars [using K-brakes], the brake cylinder and the auxiliary reservoir were usually combined, the reservoir being bolted to one end of the cylinder and forming one of the cylinder heads. The piston rod of the freight brake cylinder is hollow and loosely encloses a push rod, which is attached to the cylinder lever. (CBC)

Brake Hanger - A link or bar by which brake beams and attachments are suspended from a truck frame. (CBC)


Cabin Car - A term sometimes applied to Cabooses, but more particularly to the four-wheeled type. (CBC)

Caboose - A car that is attached to the rear of freight trains for the accommodation of the conductor and trainmen as office and quarters while in transit, and for carrying various stores, tools, etc., required on freight trains. (CBC)

Capacity - As applied to a freight car, the nominal load in pounds or gallons that the car is designed to carry; also in cubic feet. These figures are stencilled on the car. See Load Limit. (CBC)

Car Dumper - A device for unloading quickly from a freight car such bulk materials as coal or grain. After being clamped to the rail the car is then tilted or rolled over to discharge the lading. Standard blocking for cradles of car dumping machines has been adopted by the AAR. (CBC)

Car Mile - The movement of a car one mile. A term used in statistical data (CBC)

Car Replacer - A device for getting a derailed truck back on the track. It usually consists of an inclined plain or a curved surface, by which the wheels are raised when the car is pulled, so that the flange of the outside wheel can ride upon and over the rail. Also called Rerailing Frog. (CBC)

Car Seal - A device to secure freight car doors against opening by making it impossible to do so without destroying the seal. (CBC)

Card Board - A small board, secured to the outside of a freight car, on which are tacked cards giving shipping directions or warning of dangerous lading, etc. (CBC)

Card Rack - A small receptacle on the outside of a freight car to receive cards giving shipping directions. (CBC)

Carline - Framing members which extend across the top of a car from one side to the other, and support the roof. (CBC)

Carmer Cut Lever - An uncoupling lever comprised of a long, flat piece of steel that is connected to the car end sill via a bolt that serves as a pivot point. This type of uncoupling lever was used on the USRA forty and fifty ton box cars and was also standard on most Pennsy equipment during the 'teens and 1920's.

Ceiling - The inside of under surface of the roof or covering of a car. (CBC)

Center Anchor (Tank Car) - An arrangement of plates, which are riveted to the tank and to the center sills at the center of a tank car. These plates anchor the tank to the frame and supplant head blocks and double anchors at the ends. (CBC)

Center Bearing - The place in the center of a truck where the weight of the body rests, the truck bolster center plate. A body center plate attached to the car body here rests on a truck center plate attached to the truck. The general term center bearing is used to designate the whole arrangement and the functions which it performs, in distinction from side bearing. See Center Plate (CBC)

Center Dump Car - A car that will discharge its entire load between the rails. (CBC)

Center Pin or King Bolt (or King Pin) - A large bolt that passes through the center plates on the body bolster and truck bolster. The trucks turns about the bolt, but the stress is taken by the center plates. (CBC)

Center Plate - One of a pair of two plates that fit one into the other and support the car body on the trucks, allowing them to turn freely under the car. The center pin passes through both, but does not really serve as a pivot. The body center plate, or male center plate is attached to the underside of the body bolster or in cast steel bolsters is made an integral part of the casting. The female or truck center plate is attached to the top side of, or cast integral with, the truck bolster. When the car is tilted, as on a curve, part of the weight is carried on the side bearings. (CBC)

Center Sill - The central longitudinal member of the underframe of a car, which forms the backbone of the underframe and transmits most of the buffing shocks, from one end of the car to the other. (CBC)

Center Sill Cover Plate - A flat plate riveted or welded across steel center sills, either above or below, to give additional strength. (CBC)

Centrifugal Dirt Collector - A device connected in the branch pipe between the brake pipe and distributing valve, or triple valve, and so constructed that due to the combined action of centrifugal force and gravity, all dirt and foreign matter is automatically eliminated from the air flowing through the collector chamber and by means of a plug may be removed without breaking any pipe connections whatsoever. When this device is used, the brake pipe air strainer is omitted. (CBC)

Channel - a rolled steel commercial bar shaped like a trough or channel. Used extensively in steel car construction. (CBC)

More 'C's coming


Dairy Car: A refrigerator car used for carrying butter, cheese, milk and other dairy products. (CBC)

Dead Lever: One of a pair of truck brake levers to which the brake connecting rod is not attached. The upper end of the dead lever is confined within a dead lever guide, or brake lever stop, which is provided with pins to adjust the end of the brake lever, and consequently the slack in the brakes, as the brake shoes wear. The lower end is connected to the Bottom Rod or Truck Lever Connection as it is also called. The lever to which the power is first applied through the brake connecting rod is termed the Live Lever. (CBC)

Dead Lever Guide: A loop attached to a truck or car frame that holds the upper end of a fixed or dead brake lever. It usually has holes in it in which a fulcrum pin is inserted. By moving the pin from one hole to another the lever is adjusted so as to take up the wear of the brake shoes. Also called the Brake Lever Stop. (CBC)

Dead Lever Guide Lug: A lug or bracket attached to a truck bolster to support the Dead Lever Guide. (CBC)

Derrick Car: A strong platform car which carries a derrick crane which is used for removing wrecked cars and engines, erecting bridges, or handling any heavy objects. Also called a Wrecking Car. (CBC)

Detective Wire: For Car Seals, a flat twisted wire or other equivalent device to prevent the seal being stripped from the wire without destroying one or both. (CBC)

Diameter Testing Gage: A gage for testing the diameter of car wheels and axles. (CBC)

Diamond Arch Bar Truck: The type of freight car truck which was in practically universal use from the time of the first attempts at standardization until approximately the turn of the century was known as the Diamond Truck, then Diamond Arch Bar Truck, and finally in its last days simply Arch Bar Truck. At the Master Car Builders’ Convention in 1884 it was noted that this form should be the type used in preparing designs for a standard freight car truck, to have a five foot wheel base, channel bar transoms, and either swing or rigid bolsters. At the convention of the mechanical division of the AAR June 28, 1939, the general committee called attention to the matter of arch bar trucks, a notice was sent to all car owners under date of May 27, 1939, stating that the board of directors of the AAR has directed that the effective date for removal of cars with arch bar trucks from interchange service, be extended to, but not beyond, December 31, 1939. As of March 31, 1939, there remained 182,142 railroad-owned interchange freight cars, 9.9%, and 6,086 private line cars or 2.2%, equipped with arch bar trucks. Thus more than half a century is covered by the reign of this design. The distinguishing feature of the design is the side frame which consists of two strips of bar iron or steel, called Arch Bars, about 1 5/8” by 4 _” in cross section. These bars are bent so that when fitted together they form a rough diamond shape with extended end corners that are supported on the truck boxes. Across the central recess two columns extend and provide for the bolster. A pedestal tie bar _” by 4 _” in section forms a third member of the frame, extending across the bottom from journal box to journal box. The cross members of late designs of arch bar trucks resemble similar parts of modern [1940] trucks which have superseded the Arch Bar Truck. (CBC)

Ditcher: A small steam shovel, usually mounted on a flat car, for digging the ditches in railroad cuts. (CBC)

Dog: A disc or button eccentrically pivoted in such a way as to hold the ratchet wheel pawl of a winding shaft in its place. The pawl itself of a ratchet gear is also sometimes termed the dog in other forms of ratchet gear where no dog to hold the pawl is necessary. A hand brake pawl-dog is similar. (CBC)

Dome Head (Tank car): The top of a tank dome. (CBC)

Door Cap (Freight car doors): A horizontal board across the top of a wooden door. (CBC)

Door Center Girth (Wooden freight car doors): A horizontal board across the middle of the door. A middle door rail, except that it is not framed into the door, but simply nailed on. (CBC)

Door Fixtures, Box Car: The trimmings or fixtures for supporting, moving and locking a box car door. (CBC)

Door Guards (Baggage and freight car sliding doors): Strips of wood which enclose the space occupied by the door when open to keep the freight from interfering with its movement. (CBC)

Door Hanger: A device by which a sliding door is suspended at its top, and which slides on a track. Most modern [1940] freight car door hangers are fitted with rollers that run on a door track. (CBC)

Door Hanger Sheave: A grooved door-hanger roller. (CBC)

Door Clasp: A metal clasp attached to a door, by which it is fastened to a staple on a body of the car. A pin or a car seal is passed through the staple after the hasp is placed over it. Used chiefly on freight car doors. Generally made of malleable iron and with the pin attached so that it cannot be lost. Padlocks are rarely used on freight cars. (CBC)

Door Hasp Holder: A metal strap, usually malleable iron, bolted to a freight car side door, and having a hook or eye to which the hasp is attached. (CBC)

Door Hasp Staple: A ring or U-shaped staple over which the slotted part of the door hasp fits and through which the door pin is passed. (CBC)

Door Head: A steel plate or a combination of steel plates placed across the top of a door opening. (CBC)

Door Operating Gear: The mechanism used to open and close the type of doors commonly known as drop doors, which are used on hopper, gondola and other types of drop-bottom cars. (CBC)

Door Pin (Freight Car Doors): A pin used to fasten a hasp to a staple. (CBC)

Door Post or Door Jamb: A vertical post that forms the side of a doorway. (CBC)

Door Rail Bracket (Sliding Car Doors): A bracket to carry a top door rail, serving as a guide for the door. See Door Track Bracket. (CBC)

Door Roller: Also called a door sheave. The term door roller is applied to a flat tread wheel pivoted in a bracket and attached to the top or bottom of a freight car door to roll upon a flat surface rather than a narrow track. (CBC)

Door Sheave or Sliding Door Sheave: A small wheel on which a sliding door rolls. It is usually placed at the top of the door, and sometimes at the bottom also. It is carried in a door sheave holder. A grooved casting called a door shoe or door slide is sometimes used as a substitute on freight car doors, especially when the load does not rest upon the lower door track. See door roller. (CBC)

Door Stop (Freight car sliding doors): A block of wood or an iron casting placed on the side of the car to limit the distance that the door can be moved. A combined stop and lock is a door stop with an attachment for locking the door. (CBC)

Door Track: A guide which supports a sliding door, and upon which it moves, or by which it is held in its place. They are either top door tracks or bottom door tracks. The former usually carry the weight of freight car doors, which are hung thereon by door hangers. The lower track serves only as a guide for the door shoes. (CBC)

Door Track Bracket: A bracket for securing a side door track to the car. (CBC)

Double Deck (Stock car): A second floor-often made removable-in a stock car half way between the ordinary floor and the roof, to increase the carrying capacity of the car for small live stock, such as pigs and sheep. A similar arrangement is sometimes fitted in an automobile car. (CBC)

Double Lip Retaining Ring (Steel tired wheels): One of the common methods of attaching a steel tire to the body of the wheel. (CBC)

Draft Casting: One of a set of castings riveted, bolted or welded to the draft sills and transmitting to them the stresses received from the draft gear. The latter lies between the draft sills and the ends if its follower plates bear against shoulders on the castings. Also called Cheek Casting, Draft Lugs, and Draft Gear Stops. (CBC)

Draft Gear: The name of that unit which forms the connection between the coupler rigging and the center sill. The purpose of this unit is to receive the shocks incidental to train movements and coupling of cars, and so spread out the force of impact that the maximum unit stress is brought within the capacity of the car structure, for freight service, and within limits determined by passenger comfort, in passenger service. Two distinct types of draft gear are now [1940] in use known as Friction Draft Gear and Rubber Spring Draft Gear. At present the use of draft gear with rubber elements is confined to some special high-speed trains in passenger service. The use of friction draft gear is universal in freight service and also practically so in passenger service. The controlling action of the friction draft gear depends upon combined friction and spring elements, the purpose of the frictional element being to control the amount of recoil. The complete unit is housed within the coupler yoke. Its reaction to the initial compression under which it is installed holds it in place. Connection to the car sill is by means of Follower Plates that press against Draft Lugs (also called Cheek Castings) which are riveted or welded to the center sill. As its name implies, the resilience of the rubber draft gear is provided by blocks of rubber. The present installations being largely experimental, only a limited amount of information has been made public. When placed in service, April 30, 1939, the “General Pershing Zephyr” on the CB&Q was reported to have been equipped with rubber draft gear. (CBC)

Draft Gear Carry Iron: A plate that extends underneath the draft sills and supports the draft gear. (CBC)

Draft Gear Followers: See Followers.

Draft gear yoke: See Yoke.

Draft Key: A key used with some forms of draft gear to connect the coupler shank to the yoke. It is extended to pass trough key slots in the draft sills and cheek plates. (CBC)

Draft Lug Angle: An angle riveted to the bottom of the center sill at the draft gear, to which the lower part of the draft casing is fastened. (CBC)

Draft Sill Tie Plate: A plate riveted to the draft sills to aid in holding them rigid. (CBC)

Draft Spring: A spring attached to a coupler or drawbar to give elasticity. They are so arranged by means of follower plates at each end as to resist either tension or compression. (CBC)

Drain Cup (Air Brake): A globular receptacle under a triple valve to collect the water of condensation. (CBC)

Drain Cup (Refrigerators and Ice Cars): A metal cup through which the drippings from the ice pass, but which is so arranged as to prevent the entrance of air to the car. (CBC)

Draw Head: The head of an AAR automatic coupler, exclusive of the knuckle, knuckle pin and lock. (CBC)

Drawbar: A term formerly used synonymously with Coupler. It has been used indiscriminately to designate both the old link and pin drawbar and the modern [1940] automatic car coupler. There has been in the past an effort to confine the name drawbar to the old link and pin type, but in the proceedings of the MCB association, in speaking of the height of drawbars, the term is applied to the standard automatic coupler. See Coupler. (CBC)

Drawbar Safety Lug: See Coupler Horn. (CBC)

Drawbar Stop: See Draft Casting. (CBC)

Drip Cup (Air Brake): A receptacle inserted in the brake pipe to receive water condensing therein. A drain cup. (CBC)

Drip Pan (Refrigerator Car): A dish or pan at one corner or end of the car for receiving the water from the melting ice, usually permitting it to escape to the roadbed through a trap. (CBC)

Drop Bottom: See Drop Door. (CBC)

Drop Bottom Car: A gondola car with a level floor or bottom, equipped with a number of drop doors, for discharging the load. See also Hopper Bottom Gondola Car. (CBC)

Drop Brake Shaft: A brake shaft for flat cars which is normally in a vertical position, but can be dropped to a horizontal position and still remain operative should conditions of lading require this to be done. (CBC)

Drop Door: A door at the bottom of a drop bottom or hopper car for unloading it quickly by allowing the load to fall through the opening. Drop doors are usually in pairs, and are supported by a chain wound upon a winding shaft or by a lever arrangement. Frequently a drop door beam extends across the car above the winding shaft to assist in supporting it and to stiffen the car. (CBC)

Drop Door Chain: A chain attached to a drop door, and usually connecting it to a winding shaft, for the purpose of controlling the door. Also sometimes termed Hopper Chain. (CBC)

Drop Door Chain Ring: An iron ring to which are fastened the single chain passing around the door winding shaft and the two chains which are attached to eye bolts in each of the double drop doors. (CBC)

Drop Door Eye Bolt: An iron bolt with an eye in the upper end that is fastened to a drop door near the edge away from the hinge and to which is secured the drop door chain. Also sometimes termed Hopper Chain. (CBC)

Drop Door Gear: See Door Operating Gear. (CBC)

Drop End: Used on gondola cars. The entire end is arranged to swing down at right angles to its normal position, for loading long material. (CBC)

Drop End Gondola Car: A gondola car with the ends in the form of doors, which can be dropped when the car is used for shipping long material which extends over more than one car. (CBC)

Drop Forging: One made by the use of dies, under a power hammer. (CBC)

Drovers’ Car: A car similar to a caboose except that a drovers’ car is equipped with bunks for the accommodation of stockmen and drovers who accompany a train carrying a shipment of livestock belonging to them. The car is attached to the stock train. (CBC)

Dummy Hose Coupling: A casting of the same shape as a hose coupling, into which the coupling may be hooked. It is used to prevent dirt and debris getting in the brake pipe, as well as to prevent the coupling hanging down when not in use and being damaged. (CBC)

Dump Car: A car from which the load is discharged either through doors or by tipping the car body. See also Center Dump Car and Side Dump Car. (CBC)

Dumping Machine, Car: A machine usually built into a coal pier by means of which loaded cars are raised and turned partly over, thus discharging the coal into a conveyer car or directly into a chute by which it is placed in the vessel. (CBC)

Duplex Air Gage (Air Brake): A gage which registers simultaneously on the same dial the main reservoir pressure and the brake pipe pressure. For this purpose a red hand for the reservoir and black hand for the brake pipe pressures are provided. (CBC)

Duralumin: A heat-treatable alloy of aluminum. Contains about 4% copper, _% manganese and _% magnesium. Credit for its discovery is given both to one A. Wilson of Berlin, Germany and to one H. B. Weeks, head chemist of Vicker’s at Barrow, England. Duralumin is not suitable for castings but is used for sheets and plates only. The tensile strength ranges from 30,000 to 88,000 lb. Per sq. in., according to the degree of hardness. (CBC)

Dust Collector (Air Brake): A devise for preventing dust or pipe scale from passing to an air brake valve mechanism. It usually operates on a centrifugal system of separating the foreign particles from the air. (CBC)

Dynamometer Car: A car equipped with apparatus for measuring and recording drawbar pull, horse power, brake pipe pressure, and other data connected with locomotive performance and train haul conditions. (CBC)


Ejector (Brakes): An appliance for operating a vacuum brake by exhausting or ‘ejecting’ air. It consists essentially of a pipe placed in the center of a surrounding shell or casing, with an annular opening between the pipe and the casing. When the current of steam is admitted at one end and escapes at the other end, the air in the casing is drawn out through the annular opening by the current of the escaping steam. The space is connected by a pipe with the appliances on the car for operating the brakes. Suitable valves are also used in connection with the ejector to shut off and admit steam and air. A muffler is used to render noiseless the escaping steam. With automatic vacuum brakes a combination ejector is used having two ejector pipes, one a small one, which is kept in action continuously to maintain the vacuum in the brake pipe, and a large one for use in quickly releasing the brakes after a stop. (CBC)

Elliptic Spring: A spring whose shape resembles an ellipse. Made of two sets of parallel steel plates, called leaves, of constantly decreasing length. Such springs are generally used for bolster springs for passenger cars. The set of elliptic springs is the total amount of bend or compression of which the spring is capable. Elliptic springs in service are termed double or duplicate, triplets or triplicate, quadruple, quintuple, sextuple, etc., according to the number of springs used side by side and connected by a single eyebolt, so as to constitute practically one spring. (CBC)

Emergency Application: The type of brake application made when a train must be stopped in the minimum distance possible for the equipment. It may be made from a Conductor’s Valve or on a car, from a Back Up Valve or from the Engineers Brake Valve on the locomotive or power car. An emergency application may also occur when a brake pipe is broken, or when air hoses between cars are disconnected with angle cocks open. In any event, an emergency application is brought about by instantaneous exhaustion of air from the brake pipe. The brake cylinder pressure is approximately 20% higher than that obtainable from a full service application. (CBC)

Emergency Knuckle Coupler: A knuckle that is designed for use in case of damage to the knuckle of automatic couplers. (CBC)

Emergency Coupling Device: A short shank coupler that can be chained in place if the standard coupler is pulled out or broken. (CBC)

Emergency Head Back-up Connection: A device for application to an automatic connector in order that a back-up cock, brake or signal hose may be coupled to it. (CBC)

Emergency Valve (Air Brake): A valve used for making emergency applications of the brakes. See Triple Valve. (CBC)

Empty and Load Brake Equipment: An equipment which not only operates to materially increase the total braking power controlling train units on grades, but gives automatically a practically uniform braking power on car units-whether empty or loaded- in any service. Used on New York City subways and on coal cars run loaded in one direction and return empty. (CBC)

End Door: A door in the end of a car. (CBC)

End Fascia (Wooden Cars): A plain board in the end of a car covering the upper ends of the sheathing boards and extending to the roof line (CBC)

End Frame: The frame that forms the end of a car body. It includes the posts, braces, belt rail and end plate. (CBC)

End Plank (Gondola Cars): The planks in the end of the car body. They often form a door, which is hinged to the car floor so as to drop down upon it. Then called a Drop End or Drop End Door. (CBC)

End Plate: A member across the end and connecting the tops of the end posts of a car body and fastened at the ends to the two side plates. It is usually made of the proper form to serve as an end carline. (CBC)

End Play. (CBC)

End Post: The vertical members in the end body framing between the corner posts. (CBC)

End Rafter: A term sometimes erroneously applied to an end carline. (CBC)

End Sheet: A plate used in closing the end of a steel car. (CBC)

End Sill: The transverse member of the underframe of a car, extending across the ends of all the longitudinal sills. In steel underframe cars the end sill is a rolled or cast section, or a pressed plate. In passenger cars, the end sill comes directly under the end door. The platform, with its various parts, may be a separate construction or an integral part of the complete end construction. (CBC)

End Sill Brackets (Steel Frame Cars): Angle plates used to connect the longitudinal sills and the end sill. In bridge building such plates are termed brackets. When of triangular section they are termed gussets. (CBC)

End Sill Diagonal Brace: A horizontal brace extending from the end sill diagonally back to or beyond the bolster. (CBC)

End Sill Plate: A plate extending the full length and width of a built-up end sill, and riveted to the other members. Also, an iron or steel plate bolted on the face of the end sill of some passenger cars to give added strength. (CBC)

End Slope: the sloping floor from the end of a hopper car to the hopper door. See Hopper Slope Sheet. (CBC)

End Stiffener: A reinforcing member extending across the end of a freight car to prevent it from bulging or breaking out due to shifting of the load or end shocks. An end tie band is a member of this kind, but with the ends bent and fastened to the side if the car, thus tying the end of the car securely. (CBC)

End Tie Band: See End Stiffener.

End Ventilator: An aperture for the admission or escape of air at the end of a car. See Ventilator.

Expanded Metal: A perforated metal sheet that is made by slotting a sheet of iron or steel and then drawing it out so that the slots form diamond shaped holes in the plate. It is largely used on composite concrete construction as a binder; for lockers and window guards; for reinforcing brake shoes; and in certain types of iron castings. (CBC)

Express Car: A car operated in passenger trains for carrying express freight. (CBC)

Extension Reach (Logging Cars): The reach is the long bar connecting the two trucks. The Extension Reach is adjustable. See Logging Truck. (CBC)

Eye Bolt: A bolt having an eye or loop at one end for the reception of a ring, hook or rope, as may be required. (CBC)

Eye Bolt Link Hanger: A special form of swing hanger having a very short link attached to an eye bolt passing through the transoms. See Swing Hanger. (CBC)


Face (Rim of Car Wheel): The vertical surface of the outside of the rim.

Face Plate (Steel Tired Wheels): The plates connecting the tire and hub. They are distinguished as front and back face plates. See also Vestibule Face Plate.

Fascia: A plain board or plate running the length or width of the car, directly under the roof. Designated as side fascia and end fascia, depending on location. In passenger equipment cars the eaves molding is placed on the upper edge of the fascia.

Feed Valve (Also called slide valve feed valve):
(Air Brake): A valve which automatically maintains the pressure of air supplied through the brake valve to the automatic brake system. It may be attached either to the brake valve or placed in the piping between the main reservoir and the brake valve.
(Train Air Signal): See Reducing Valve.

Female Center Plate: The body and truck center plates are sometimes called male and female center plates, respectively. See Center Plates.

Ferry Push Car: A very long platform car used for pushing or pulling other cars on or off a ferry boat when the latter is approached by an incline too steep for locomotives, so that the latter can push or pull the cars without running on the incline. See Lorry and Push Car.

Filler Block: A block fitted into the space between the tank head and the end sill of a tank car to prevent the tanks moving on the frame. See Center Anchor.

Filler Cover: The cover for the opening to the water tank supply on cars.

Fillet: A small light molding, more generally termed a bead. A rounded corner left on the inside of the angle where two surfaces join as in a casting or a machine part such as an axle journal.

Finger Guard (Brake Beams): A projecting rod or finger which, by bearing on the inside of the wheel, prevents the brake beam from being excessively displaced laterally. A wheel guard.

Fish Belly Sill: A type of heavy, deep, built-up center sill used to some extent in passenger equipment cars. Also used on some flat cars. Profile resembles that of a fish, hence the name.

Fish Car: A car equipped with water tanks for the transportation of live fish and also providing quarters for the operators in charge of the car and special equipment. The construction is similar to passenger train cars and it usually is operated in passenger trains. [Editors note: I could not find an equipment class for this type of car in the April 1946 ORER. If anyone knows the classification or the ownership of these cars, please let me know. Since Al Hoffman has researched pretty much everything there is to know about poultry cars, it might be a good next project to keep him busy]

Fixed Brake Lever: More commonly, Dead Lever.

Flange: A projecting rim for attaching a part to any surface by screws or bolts.
(Car Wheel): A projecting edge or rim on the periphery for keeping it on the rail.

Flange and Wheel Tread, Form Of: See Manual D-50.

Flange Fittings: Special pipe fittings made with flanges held together by bolts. The joints are made tight by the use of washers or gaskets of rubber, asbestos, lead or other soft materials.

Flanged Brake Shoes: Brake shoes so constructed that they bear on both the tread and flange of a wheel.

Flanger: A form of plow, sometimes placed under a special car, called a flanger car, but usually under a snow plow, for clearing ice and snow from the inside of the rails to provide a clear passage for the wheel flanges. Flangers are also frequently attached to locomotives, either on or just behind the pilot. Also called Snow Scraper. [Class MWK]

Flat Car: A freight car having a floor laid over the sills, and without any body or housing above. See Well Car. [Classes FB, FC, FD, FG, FL, FM, FW]

Flexible truck: A truck with a flexible connection between the bolster and side frame. See Swing Bolster.

Floating Connecting Rod (Foundation Brake Gear): A rod which connects a cylinder lever with a floating lever.

Floating Lever: A lever, one end of which is fastened to the fulcrum bracket, the other end connected to the live truck lever, and the middle to the cylinder lever, to which latter is connected the push rod.

Floating Lever Bracket: A bracket attached to the underframe of the car to carry the floating lever of the brake gear.

Floating Lever Hanger: A square bracket or hanger supporting the floating lever.

Floor: The general term given to the layer of material which is placed on top of the underframe of a car and provides the direct support for the car contents. Several designs of floor construction are followed and vary according with the traffic in which the various types of passenger and freight cars are operated. No general description of car flooring can be given as designs are constantly changing especially for passenger cars. However, in sections 3 and 7 of this book will be found drawings and illustrations showing how floors in current use are built.

Floor Beam: A beam for supporting the nailing strips or floor stringers in a steel car, and also acting to a certain extent as a tie between the side and center sills.

Floor Nailing Strip: A strip of wood placed between the sills, to which the floor boards are nailed. See Nailing Strip.

Floor Nailing Strip Stiffener: A metal reinforcing strip on a floor nailing strip.

Floor Rack: A rack built for use on the floors of some types of express and baggage cars and in refrigerator cars to provide for certain classes of lading where leakage due to melting ice occurs. A floor rack is usually constructed of strips of wood cleated together or separated by filler blocks and bolted together, the complete rack being laid on the floor proper. This rack allows circulation of air and supports the lading above the drainage or any water which may accumulate. The size of the rack depends on convenience in handling and in some cases hinges are used to permit folded up against the side of the car.

Floor Plate: A sheet steel plate, ribbed or perforated, attached to a box car floor and reaching across the car from one side to the other. See Center Pin Floor Plate.

Floor Stop (Door Holder): A catch for a door holder attached to the floor, in distinction from a partition stop attached to the wall or partition. See Door Holder.

Flush Door (Box Car): A door which is flush with the side of the car when closed.

Followers: Rectangular or circular plates or blocks of metal placed inside of the coupler yoke and bearing against each end of the draft gear. Their function is to protect the draft gear from the battering due to the movement of the drawbar and to transmit the stresses of compression or tension to the draft springs and the center sills. They literally “follow” the gear-hence the name. Designated Front and Back Follower. Also called Follower Plates.

Follower Block: A special form of draft gear follower plate.

Follower Bolt: A piston follower bolt. See Piston.

Follower Lug: See Draft Casting.

Follower Plate: See Followers.

Follower Plate Support: A support or guide placed across the center or draft sills for the draft gear followers.

Follower Stop: See Draft Casting.

Foot Board (Freight Cars): See Brake Step.

Foreign Car: Any car not belonging to the particular railway on which it is running. A term also used in America to designate a car used in a foreign country.

Foundation Brake Gear: The levers, rods, brake beams, etc., by which the piston rod of the brake cylinder is connected to the brake shoes in such a manner that when air pressure forces the piston out the brake shoes are forced against the wheels.

Four Point Support: See Brake Beam Support.

Frame: A structure composed of a number of members designed and arranged to withstand the stresses set up in the particular part of the car for which it is intended and to provide the supporting structure for the sides, floor and ends of the car. See Underframe, etc.

Free Air Space (Refrigerator Car Insulation): An air space which has free communication with the outside air so that the air can circulate through it.

Freight Car: A general term used to designate all kinds of cars which carry goods, merchandise, produce, mineral, etc., to distinguish them from those which carry passengers or are used in passenger train service.

Freight Car Lock: A lock for fastening the doors of freight cars.

Freight Truck: A freight car truck.

Friction Block: A casting attached to the truck bolster as a guide and to prevent wear between the bolster and transom.

Friction Buffer: A buffer in which shocks are absorbed and dissipated by friction. See Buffer.

Friction Draft Gear: Any form of draft gear which makes use of friction for absorbing and dissipating part of the energy of buffing and tension shocks transmitted through the couplers. See Draft Gear.

Friction Draft Spring: A special spring, the design of which is such to increase its capacity by friction between the coils. See Spring Dampener.

Friction Roller: A wheel or pulley interposed between an object and the surface over which it moves, to diminish the friction.

Fruit Car: A box car equipped with some means of ventilation, for carrying produce which does not require refrigeration. Commonly used for fruit.

Fulcrum: In mechanics, the object on or against which a lever is supported, or the point about which a lever moves. See Brake Lever Fulcrum.

Fulcrum Hanger Bar: A support for the brake lever fulcrum of a six-wheel truck.

Furniture Car: A box car of large cubic capacity, particularly designed for carrying furniture or other light freight which is bulky.


Gage: A tool or instrument used in measuring, or as a standard of measurement, of pressure or size. See Cylinder Gages, Duplex Air Gage, Micrometer Gage, Steam Gage, etc.

Galvanized Iron: Sheet iron covered with sal ammoniac, after first being cleaned in a bath of acid, And then coated with zinc by immersing it in a bath of the molten metal. An amalgam of 11.5 zinc and 1.0 mercury is sometimes used. See Kalamined Iron. Manual, A-119.

Gear: In mechanics the term is used to designate a combination of appliances to obtain some result, as valve gear. See Brake Gear, Draft Gear, etc. Wheels are said to be in gear when they have teeth or cogs interlocking or intermeshed. See Gear Wheel.

Geared Brake: A hand brake which employs gearwheels to increase braking force. Section 13.

Gear Wheel: A cogged or toothed wheel. A spur wheel.

General Service Car: A car suitable for carrying a variety of classes of freight, a term commonly applied to a gondola car having practically the entire bottom composed of drop doors hinged at the center to dump outside the rails. AAR class GS. See Convertible Car.

Gib And Key: A fastening to connect a bar and strap together by a slot common to both, in which a gib with a beveled back is first inserted and then driven fast by a taper key.

Gib Nut: a type of lock nut which derives its holding power from bent down edges, which, upon coming in contact with the holding nut are bent up and force the nut threads into those of the bolt to form a jam.

Girder: The term girder is restricted to beams subject to transverse strain, and exerting a vertical pressure merely on their points of support. The term is almost synonymous with truss. Thus engineers speak of a ‘Howe Truss” a “Pratt Truss” a ”Warren Girder” and a “Lattice Girder”. The distinction is that a truss consists of separate parts held together by pins, or even simply by pressure, which may be taken down and re-erected; Whereas a girder is a sigle solid structure, either all one solid piece (Rolled Girder), or of plates riveted together (Plate Girder), or of combined plates and riveted lattice work (Lattice Girder).

Gland: That part of a stuffing-box which surrounds the rod or stem and is pressed against the packing as the stuffing-box nut is tightened.

Gondola Car: A freight car with sides and ends, but without a top covering. The floor or bottom is level, or nearly so. Used for the transportation of freight in bulk. Gondola cars are sometimes distinguished as high side, low side, drop end, drop bottom, general purpose and convertible. See also Convertible Car, Hopper Bottom Gondola Car, and Drop Bottom Car. The term “high side gondola” is commonly employed to designate cars which have sides more than 36 inches high above the floor, and the term “low side gondola” to those cars whose sides are 36 inches or less in height.

Grab Iron: A rod or bar of iron attached to freight cars for the use of trainmen boarding the cars. Also termed hand hold and grab handle. Often more definitely specified as roof, side, or end grab irons. See Safety Appliances.

Graduated Spring: A form of compound spring in which only a certain number of the individual spirals come into action with a light load, and the others only under a heavy load. Another method of accomplishing the same end, graduating the resistance of the spring to the load placed upon it, is the use of the keg-shaped or spool-shaped spring. Under a load the part of larger diameter closes first and that of smaller diameter is much stiffer. Graduated springs have been constructed by combining rubber and spiral springs, but they are now [1941] out of use. Graduated springs have been superseded by single and double nest coil springs of equal length. See Spring.

Graduating Valve Spring (Triple Valve): A spiral spring which acts against a collar on the graduating stem to restrain the triple valve piston from moving beyond service position when a gradual brake pipe reduction is made, but which is compressed by the piston when a sudden brake pipe reduction is made. See Triple Valve.

Graduating Valve (Triple Valve): A device attached to the piston stem by a pin and whose movements are controlled by the piston. Its office is to open and close the service port in the slide valve, feeding air from the auxiliary reservoir to the brake cylinder when a service application of the brakes is made. See Triple Valve.

Grain Car: A box car used for the transportation of grain Occasionally fitted with hoppers for bottom discharge. [Occasionally you will see printing beside a box car door that ‘prohibits uses that will render this car unfit for grain loading’]

Grain Door: A close fitting moveable door on the inside of a boxcar by which the lower part of the door opening is closed when the car is loaded with grain, to prevent the latter from leaking out. Such doors are usually made so that they can be thrown over on one side of the doorway or be suspended from the roof, and thus be out of the way when they are not used. Very few cars, however, are fitted with such doors, and ordinarily a temporary arrangement is used which is nailed in place. A burlap covering is sometimes used to insure against the grain leaking out at the joints.

Grain Door Rod: An iron rod attached to the door posts on the inside of a box car, to which a grain door is fashioned or hinged. The door and rod are generally arranged so that the former can be moved to one side and out of the way when the car is not loaded with grain.

Grain Line: A line marked on grain cars to indicate loading height for various grains.

Grain Shoe: A strip of wood or other material used to prevent leakage of grain from freight cars. Also called Grain Strip.

Grated Door: A door consisting of a wooden frame with iron or wooden bars, used on cars for carrying fruit, live stock, etc.

Grating: A perforated or slotted covering for an opening. A slat frame on the floor of refrigerator cars, to raise lading above the floor and prevent its coming in contact with water, etc. See Grille.

Gravel Car: A car for carrying gravel; usually either a dump car or a flat car, the latter being most used. See Ballast Car, Contractor’s Car, Industrial Cars.

Gravity Relief Trap (Steam Coupler): An auxiliary trap, automatic in its action, which is closed by the escape of steam and held closed by the steam pressure. When the pressure is removed the weight of the valve stem tips the valve and allows the escape of the water of condensation. The pressure under which it closes is dependant on the weight of the valve stem.

Gravity Side Bearing: A side bearing which, after a movement in either direction, returns to its normal position by gravity. See Side Bearings.

Grease Box: A journal box.

Group Spring: A helical car spring formed of a number of separate springs, single, or nested and united by a common pair of spring plates. See Spring.

Guard Posts (Fruit Car): A row of posts standing inside of the ventilators and serving as a fender for the load packed within so as to prevent obstruction to the ventilators.

Gusset Plate: A flat plate used to fasten two parts of a metal frame together by riveting through each member and the plate, or to stiffen a joint between two pieces which are fastened together by angle plates, in which case the gusset plate is riveted to the flanges of the adjoining pieces.


Hair Felt (Car Insulation): A heavy non-conductor of heat made of hair, placed between the inner and outer linings to prevent conduction of heat. See Insulation. (CBC)

Hand Brake: The name applied to the brake apparatus with which all cars are equipped, which permits of the brakes being applied by hand. When cars are being switched in yards they are frequently in motion when no locomotive is coupled to them and a hand brake is necessary so that the trainmen may control them. See Safety Appliances. (CBC)

Hand Brake Chain: The chain which forms part of the connection between the hand brake shaft and system of brake levers. (CBC)

Hand Brake Chain Carrier: A guide for the hand brake chain, riveted to the underframe. (CBC)

Hand Brake Connections: The rods and chains connecting the hand brake shaft with the brake levers. (CBC)

Hand Brake Guide: See Brake Rod Guide. (CBC)

Hand Brake Pawl: See Brake pawl. (CBC)

Hand Brake Rod Guide: See Lower Brake Shaft Bearing. (CBC)

Hand Brake Shaft: See Brake Shaft. (CBC)

Hand Brake Wheel: A wheel attached to the upper end of the brake shaft, by which the latter is turned to apply the brakes by hand. (CBC)

Hand Car: See Car, Inspection. (CBC)

Hand Hold: See Grab Iron and Safety Appliances. (CBC)

Handhole: A small opening in a tank or other vessel usually provided with an air and water tight seal which may be removed and the hand inserted for making repairs or other purposes. (CBC)

Hand Rail: A bar or rail to be grasped with the hand as a help in boarding or alighting from a car, and also to prevent trainmen from being thrown from cars, due to their motion or sudden shocks (CBC)

Hand Rail Post (Tank Car): A support for the hand rail. (CBC)

Handle Latch Spring (Motorman’s Air Brake Valve): A spring carrying a latch or dog to hold the handle in any desired position. (CBC)

Hanger: A general mechanical term given to unit of equipment which supports by suspension, itself or other units, and usually subject principally to tension stresses only. Examples in car construction are Brake Hanger and Swing hanger. (CBC)

Hanger Link: See Swing Hanger. (CBC)

Hanging Boards or Meat Timbers (Refrigerator Cars): Transverse bars, usually resting on bogus plates, to which the load of meat is suspended from hooks. (CBC)

Hasp: A bar which fits over a staple and is fastened thereon by passing the shackle of a padlock through the staple, or by a pin. The other end of the hasp is attached by a pin or another staple to the door. See Door Hasp. (CBC)

Hatch: The opening and also its cover through which ice is placed in refrigerator cars. (CBC)

Heater Box: A box applied to refrigerator cars and containing the burners for heating during cold weather while transporting perishable product. (CBC)

Heater Car: A car, equipped with heating apparatus, for carrying fruits, vegetables, and other perishable products during cold weather. Refrigerator cars are frequently converted to heater cars by adding heater apparatus. (CBC)

Helical Spring: A spring made of bar steel bent in the form of a helix. A coil or spiral spring. (CBC)

Helium car: A special type of tank car used for the transportation of helium. (CBC)

High Side Gondola Car: A gondola car with extra high sides and ends, for carrying coal or minerals. (CBC)

High Speed Brake: An air brake designed so that a greater pressure is applied to the wheels when traveling at a high speed than at a slow speed. See Air Brakes.
The principles involved in the high speed brake were demonstrated by a series of experiments known as the Westinghouse-Galton tests made in England in 1878, 1879. These showed that a greater pressure not only could be safely applied to the wheels by the brake shoes at high speeds, but also such that considerably greater brake shoe pressure must be applied to the wheels at high speeds on order to resist the motion of the train as effectively then as when it is resisted with a more moderate brake shoe pressure at low speeds. The braking of modern [1941] high-speed trains involves problems and principles far too complicated to explain in a short definition. Articles describing these problems have appeared in “Railway Mechanical Engineer” and “Railway Age”. In section 12 of this book will be found illustrations and descriptive information covering the principal equipment. (CBC)

Hog Chain: A term applied to a certain form of trusses in wooden car construction. A hog chain is an inverted truss rod, and usually so called when applied in connection with and in similar form to a body truss rod, the object of a truss rod being to prevent a beam from sinking in the middle, and of a hog chain to prevent sinking at the ends when supported at the middle. Also called an overhang truss or brace rod. See Overhang Brace Rod, Hog Chain Rod. (CBC)

Hog Chain Queen Post: A strut over which a hog chain passes. See Hog Chain. (CBC)

Hollow Piston Rod (Freight Brakes): A brake cylinder piston rod which is made hollow to receive the push rod. (CBC)

Hood: More properly a ventilator or wind scoop, used in connection with natural ventilation of cars. A horizontal tube or covering on the outside of a car, and on top of an air inlet pipe, so as to give the latter a T-shape. The air is admitted to the pipe through the ends of the hood, which are covered with wire netting to exclude cinders. Some hoods have a valve which is moved by the current of air so as to provide ventilation regardless of the direction in which the car runs. See Platform Hood, Ventilator Hood. (CBC)

Hopper Bottom Gondola Car: A gondola car having a level floor or bottom and one or more hoppers equipped with drop doors for discharging the load. See also Drop Bottom Car and Gondola Car. (CBC)

Hopper Car: A car with the floor sloping from the ends and sides to one or more hoppers, which will discharge its entire load by gravity through the hopper doors. Modern hopper cars are of the self-clearing type. See Tandem Hopper Car. (CBC)

Hopper Door: A door at the bottom of the slope or hopper of a hopper car which when opened permits the load to discharge. See also Drop Door. (CBC)

Hopper Door Locking Pawl. In a hopper door gear, the catch which, when thrown into engagement with the toggle arms, prevents the arms from moving from the closed position and opening the hopper doors. (CBC)

Hopper Door Toggle Arm (Hopper Car): The link in a drop door mechanism which is fastened to the door and forces it shut when the toggle link is forced down. (CBC)

Hopper Door Toggle Link (Hopper Car): The arm in a drop door mechanism which forces down the toggle arms when the winding shaft is revolved, and closes the doors. (CBC)

Hopper Ore Car: See Ore Car. (CBC)

Hopper Plates: The metal sheets constituting the bottom of a hopper car. Also termed inclined floor or hopper slope. The term hopper plate is generally confined to the metal lining plate used in wooden hopper cars. See Hopper Slope Sheet. (CBC)

Hopper Slope Sheet: A metal sheet used in the sloped floor of a hopper car. (CBC)

Hopper Support (Hopper Car): An angle riveted to the ridge of the hopper at the center and the top of the side sheet, forming a support for the hopper. (CBC)

Hopper Supporting Strap: A heavy U-shaped iron strap bent to the shape of a hopper of a wooden gondola car, and with the ends bolted to the side sills. It is usually applied at the end of the inclined floor, and in the middle of the hopper at which point the doors are hinged. Also called hopper carry iron. (CBC)

Horizontal Brake Shaft: See Brake Shaft. (CBC)

Hose Clamp: A clamp to bind the hose to the hose nipple or coupling. Sometimes called a hose band. (CBC)

Hose Protector: A device to protect the air brake signal or steam heat hose from injury. (CBC)

Hot Box: An overheated journal (commonly known as a hot box) is one that requires treatment or setting out of any car when such hot journal develops between originating point and point of destination of car on carrying road, irrespective of class of train or point at which car is treated or set out. (CBC)

House Car: An enclosed freight car such as box, automobile, stock, refrigerator, poultry. Etc. (CBC)

Hub (Car Wheel): The central portion into which the axle is fitted. (CBC)