The following glossary is arranged alphabetically with each term catalogued by first letter. Select a letter below to begin.
Short for cyanoacrylate adhesive, also known as super glue. A high strength adhesive that can be used on metal and styrene plastic. Sometimes seen as ACC for alphacyanoacrylate cement.
Usually a handheld piece of equipment with necessary controls to send speed, direction, and other information to the locomotive. Frequently referred to as "throttle". On the prototype, the part of the locomotive that houses the crew.
Used to connect handheld and stationary cabs to a command station. Wireless cabs are indirectly connected to a cab bus via their companion wireless base.
A method of independent control of two or more trains in which the throttle for each train is connected to the sections of track or "blocks" in which that train will run. A block is an electrically insulated section of track. Only one engine or set of engines can be independently controlled in each block.
An articulated steam locomotive peculiar to the Southern Pacific, built with the cab in front for visibility in tunnels and snowsheds.
A diesel locomotive built with a full width body. Sometimes called a "covered wagon".
The car that carries the crew of a freight train. Its almost always at the rear of the train. Slang terms for the caboose include buggy, bouncer, bobber, cabin, cage, crummy, hack, palace, and way car.
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.
A round-cross section motor with a circular field magnet.
A structure built above railroad tracks to carry overhead wire for electric locomotives.
The path of an electrical current.
A switch that automatically protects the Digital Command Control system and all the decoders on the layout in the event of a current overload.
Class I railroad
The seven major U.S. railroads with average operating revenues in excess of $250 million or more are known as Class I; railroads with revenue of between $20 and $250 million are Class II; less than $20 million earns a Class III rating.
Lights on the front of the locomotive that indicate the type of train. White lights show that the train is an extra; green indicates that another section of the train is following.
Green or proceed signal.
The space thats required for rolling stock to pass an object or other equipment. Vertical clearance is the space between a car roof and an overhead object or structure.
The location near a turnout frog where equipment on one track may safely pass equipment on the adjacent track.
See All-in-one track.
A type of geared steam locomotive used primarily by logging railroads. The two cylinders drive a jackshaft parallel with the axles. Power is transmitted to each truck through bevel gears and a driveshaft; rods couple the axles on each truck. See also Shay and Heisler.
The rails connecting the points and the frog of a turnout.
A structure for storing coal and transferring it into locomotive tenders.
Height of model rail as measured by thousandths of an inch. Code 83 is .083" tall, code 70 is .070", and code 55 is .055".
See All in one track.
A way of controlling model trains by sending electronic signals through the rails or by wireless link, either radio or infrared. Each locomotive has a decoder or receiver that responds only to the messages specifically directed to it. Engines can be controlled independently anywhere on a layout.
The "brains" of the DCC system. It receives information from the cab, forms the appropriate DCC "packet," and transmits this information in an NMRA DCC-compliant signal to the track via the booster.
Common rail wiring
A wiring system wherein one rail is electrically continuous. A single wire connected to it serves as a common return for two or more cabs.
Configuration variable (CV)
In DCC, number programmed into a decoder that controls its behavior. These numbers remain stored until they are reprogrammed. An address is an example of a configuration variable.
Consist (pronounced CON-sist)
Cars which make up a train; also a list of those cars. A locomotive consist is a group of diesel units put together to pull a train. Also known as "m.u.-ing" (from multiple units). In DCC, with basic consisting, the command station sends the same commands to each loco in the consist. With advanced consisting, each decoder-equipped locomotive responds to the address of the consist, enabling the command station to control the consist with a single command.
In DCC, the address to which all digital decoders in a consist respond.
Continuous rail (also welded rail, ribbon rail)
On the prototype, rails that have been welded together to form a single rail hundreds of feet long, eliminating most rail joints, which are the weakest part of the track.
A cable connecting the command station to its boosters.
A type of table construction in which the plywood tabletop is cut alongside the track and then elevated above the level of the rest of the layout (or dropped below).
The device that fastens cars and locomotives together.
A diesel cab unit, A or B, as opposed to a hood unit.
A diesel unit that looks like a cab unit but differs structurally in that the carbody is merely a full-width hood rather than a structural part of the locomotive.
A track arrangement that permits two tracks to cross but does not allow trains to move from one track to the other. (Also called a "diamond" from its shape.) A level intersection between two tracks or between a track and a highway.
Two turnouts laid frog to-frog to allow trains to move from one track to another parallel track.
Centralized Traffic Control, remote control of turnouts and signals by a dispatcher or control operator.
Roadbed dug into the surrounding terrain to maintain a relatively even grade.
Cut and fill
A right of way construction method that removes earth or stone above grade and uses it to fill in gaps below grade.
Cut of cars
A number of cars coupled together. The addition of marker lamps and an engine makes the cut of cars a train.
See Configuration variable.