The following glossary is arranged alphabetically with each term catalogued by first letter. Select a letter below to begin.
A painting or scenic photograph on the wall behind the layout. It can be as simple as a cloudless sky or it can echo the scenery of the layout and create an illusion of great distance.
Defective, out of order.
On real railroads, a layer of material - usually crushed rock, cinders, or gravel - on top of the roadbed that holds the ties in position and facilitates drainage. On a model railroad, ballast is simulated by fine gravel spread between the ties and alongside the track.
See Return loop.
Supporting framework for a model railroad layout. L girder and open grid (sometimes called butt joint) are two popular types.
On a real railroad, a section of track defined for the purpose of controlling trains. On a model railroad, a block is an electrically isolated section of track.
A signal at the entrance to a block (See Block) indicating whether the block is occupied by a train.
The 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).
An experienced railroad man who moves from railroad to railroad.
In DCC, the booster takes the low-current signal from the command station and "boosts" it to the high-current signal needed by locomotives to operate DC motors, etc., in conformance with NMRA Standards S-91. Also referred to as power stations or power boosters.
Secondary line of a railroad.
Brass (also brass hat, brass collar)
Railroad executives and officials.
A structure that supports a track passing over a depression in the terrain or a stream. A through bridge has a floor structure, which supports the track between its side beams or trusses, while a deck bridge has its supporting structure below track level.
A set of steel rails mounted inside the running rails on a bridge or other structure to keep derailed cars in line.
An intermediate support used between bridge spans.
An iron or steel casting which transfers the weight of a bridge to its supports. One end is normally a solid mounting while the opposite end allows for expansion and contraction.
(brand name) An abrasive rubber block used to clean track.
A braced, coupler height blocking device that keeps cars from rolling off the end of a track.
Bunk, camp, or outfit car
A passenger or freight car converted into movable living quarters for track workers.
Bus, or bus wire
A main wire, or trunk wire, running under a model railroad. Shorter branch wires, such as track power feeders, are connected to it.