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SCLS Live Steam Railroading Glossary

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Beginning With: "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)
RAIL Any railroad employee
RAILFAN Anyone who makes a hobby of railroading
RAP THE STACK Give your locomotive a wide-open throttle, make more speed. Rapper is an engineer who works his engine too hard
RATTLE HER HOCKS Get speed out of an engine
RATTLER Freight train
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
REAL ESTATE Poor coal mixed with dirt or slag. When mixed with sand it is called seashore
RED BOARD Stop signal
RED EYE Same as red board; also liquor
RED ONION Eating house or sleeping quarters for railroad men
REDBALL, BALL OF FIRE Fast freight train,
REDCAP Station porter. Term coined about 1900 by George H. Daniels, New York Central publicist
REEFER or RIFF Refrigerator car
REPTILE See snake
RETAINER Small valve located near brake wheel for drawing off and holding air on cars. (Retainers often figure prominently in true tales and fiction stories about runaway cars on trains)
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
RIP-TRACK Minor repair track or car-repair department. RIP means repair
RIPRAP Loose pieces of heavy stone or masonry used in some places to protect roadbeds from water erosion
RIVET BUSTER Boilermaker
ROAD HOG Any large motor vehicle on a highway, especially intercity trailer trucks and busses that cut into railroad freight and passenger revenue
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
RUBBERNECK CAR Observation car
RULE G The use of intoxicants or narcotics is prohibited
RUN The train to which a man is assigned is his run
RUN LIGHT For an engine to run on the tracks without any cars
RUN-AROUND If it is a man's turn to work and he is not called, he may claim pay for the work he missed. He has been given the run-around
RUN-IN A collision; an argument or fight
RUNNER Locomotive engineer
RUNT Dwarf signal
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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