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SCLS Live Steam Railroading Glossary

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Beginning With: "C"
CABOOSE BOUNCE, CABOOSE HOP Early term for a train composed only of an engine and caboose
CAGE Caboose
CALLER One whose duty is to summon train or engine crews or announce trains
CALLIOPE Steam locomotive
CAMEL or CAMELBACK Engine with control cab built over middle of boiler, suggesting camel's hump. Also called Mother Hubbard type
CAN Tank car
CANNED Taken out of service
CAPTAIN Conductor; often called skipper. This title dates from Civil War days when some railroads were run by the Army and the conductor was in many cases a captain
CAR KNOCKER Car inspector or car repairer-from the early custom of tapping the wheels to detect flaws. Also called car whacker; and car toad (because he squats while inspecting), car tink, and car tonk
CAR-CATCHER Rear brakeman
CAR-SEAL HAWK Railroad policeman
CARD Credentials showing Brotherhood or Union membership
CARHOUSE CAR Covered cement car
CARRY A WHITE FEATHER Show a plume of steam over the safety valves of the engine
CARRYING GREEN Train whose engine displays green flags by day or green lights by night to indicate that a second section is following closely. Carrying white in the same manner signifies an extra train
CARRYING THE BANNER Flagging. Also wearing ostentatious Brotherhood emblems, frequently done by 'bos in working the main stem for a handout
CARRYING THE MAIL Bringing train orders
CASEY JONES Any locomotive engineer, especially a fast one. Name derived from John Luther (Casey) Jones
CATWALK Plank walk on top of boxcars; sometimes called the deck from which comes the word deckorate
CHAIN GANG Crew assigned to pool service, working first in, first out
CHAMBERMAID Machinist in roundhouse
CHARIOT Caboose, or general manager's car
CHASING THE RED Flagman going back with red flag or light to protect his train
CHECKER A company spy, particularly one checking up on loss of materials or of the receipts of an agent or conductor
CHERRY PICKER Switchman, so called because of red lights on switch stands. Also any railroad man who is always figuring on the best jobs and sidestepping undesirable ones (based on the old allusion, "Life is a bowl of cherries")
CHEW CINDERS Engines do this when reversed while running and while working quite a bit of steam
CHIP PIES Narrow-gauge cars
CINDER CRUNCHER Switchman or flagman. Cinder skipper is yard clerk
CINDER DICK Railroad policeman or detective
CINDER SNAPPER Passenger who rides open platforms on observation car
CIRCUS Railroad
CLAW Clinker hook used by fireman
CLEARANCE CARD Authority to use main line
CLOCK Steam gauge. (See wiping the clock; don't confuse with Dutch clock). Also fare register
CLOWN Switchman or yard brakeman. Clown wagon is caboose
CLUB Same as brake club. Club winder is switchman or brakeman. A brakeman's club was usually his only weapon of defense against hoboes
COAL HEAVER Fireman, sometimes called stoker
COCK-LOFT Cupola of a caboose. Also called crow's nest
COFFEE Respite period enjoyed by baggagemen while awaiting arrival of the next train. Also called spot
COFFEEPOT Little, old, steam locomotive
COLLAR AND ELBOW JOINT Boardinghouse. (There isn't too much room at dinner table)
COLOR-BLIND Employee who can't distinguish between his own money and the company's
COMPANY BIBLE Book of rules
COMPANY JEWELRY Trainman's hat, badge, and switch keys
COMPANY NOTCH or WALL STREET NOTCH Forward corner of the reverse gear quadrant. It is called the company notch because an engine exerts full pulling power when worked with a full stroke
CONDUCER Conductor
CONSIST Contents or equipment of a train. Report form sent ahead so yardmaster can make plans for switching the train. The report is usually dropped off to an operator; this is dropping the consist
COOL A SPINDLE Cool a hotbox by replacing the brass or putting water on the bearing
CORNERED When a car, not in the clear on a siding, is struck by a train or engine
CORNFIELD MEET Head-on collision or one that is narrowly averted
COULDN'T PULL A SETTING HEN OFF HER NEST Derogatory description of old-fashioned locomotive
COUNTING THE TIES Reducing speed
COW CAGE Stock car. Also called cow crate
COWCATCHER Pilot. The old term was discarded by railroad officials, probably because it was a butt for jokesters. You've often heard about the passenger on a slow local train complaining to the conductor, "I don't understand why you have the cowcatcher on the front of the engine. This train can never overtake a cow. But if you'd attach it to the rear of the train it might at least discourage cows from climbing into the last car and annoying the passengers"
CRADLE Gondola or other open-top car
CRIB Caboose
CRIPPLE See bad order
CROAKER Company doctor
CROWNING HIM Coupling a caboose on a freight train when it is made up
CRUMB BOSS Man in charge of camp cars
CRUMMY Caboose. Also called crum box, crib and many other names. Innumerable poems have been written about "the little red caboose behind the train"
CUPOLA Observation tower on caboose
CUSHIONS Passenger cars. Cushion rider may be either a passenger or member of passenger-train crew. (See varnished cars)
CUT Several cars attached to an engine or coupled together by themselves. Also that part of the right-of-way which is excavated out of a hill or mountain instead of running up over it or being tunneled through it
CUT THE BOARD Lay off the most recently hired men on the extra list. (See board)
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