The following glossary is arranged alphabetically with each term catalogued by first letter. Select a letter below to begin.
A type of lightweight passenger train now operated by Amtrak in the Northwest. In the model world the term is applied to truck mounted couplers.
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.
A car attached to a steam locomotive that carries extra fuel and water for the locomotive.
An extra rail mounted alongside the running rails to supply current for electric locomotives or traction cars.
The speed control of the locomotive; in the model world, a potentiometer or other speed controller.
The structural element placed at right angles to the track center line to support and hold the rails in gauge. Most ties on real railroads are still hardwood, but increasingly some are made of prestressed concrete. On a model railroad ties are either plastic or wood.
A forged steel plate used between the rail base and the tie top to help spread the load.
Any heavy wood beam used in railroad construction.
The authority for the movement of regular trains subject to the railroads operating rules.
An electrical switch with a lever control and snap action (as opposed to a slide switch or push buttons). The household light switch is a 110 volt example of a toggle switch.
Two parallel rails affixed to wooden or concrete ties; plastic or wood in model form.
See Bus, or bus wire.
The horizontal wood support beneath model roadbed and track; subroadbed.
Public utility transportation; by extension, all electrically operated trains.
A turnout with its points facing away from the direction of travel.
Changes high-voltage 110-volt AC house current into low-voltage AC current to power your DCC system.
See Spiral curve or easement.
The wheel axle frame assembly under each end of a car or locomotive; the framework supporting railroad wheels.
A section of track with movable rails to divert a train from one track to another. Also "switch," although technically the switch is only the moving parts of a turnout. "Turnout" also avoids confusion with electrical devices. Referred to by number. For example, a no. 6 turnout spreads one unit for each six units of travel measured from the point of the frog.
A revolving bridge commonly used to turn locomotives in an engine terminal.