Model Railroading Terms
These terms are most used or found in model railroading.
Miniature paint sprayer. Uses compressed air to spray thinned paint.
Painted or photographic back ground for a layout.
Crushed rock placed between the ties on real railroads to keep the ties from moving. Also drains water off.
A very lightweight wood that is easily cut.
Frame that makes up the foundation of a train layout.
Electrically isolated section of track, used for multi train operation, signaling systems, or to avoid short circuits.
Part of a railroad car body underneath that connects the truck's pivot to the body. Also refers to the cross members. On trucks, the piece between the side frames.
A short section of track that diverges from the mainline to serve a town or industry.
At the end of a spur or branch line to keep cars from running over the edge.
"Super Glue." Bonds metal and plastic.
One power pack per train, running on blocks, so each train is controlled individually.
Process for duplicating parts.
Overhead wires for electrical locomotives.
Height of rail in thousandths of an inch. Code 83 rail is .083" tall.
Sends signals through the rails, decoded by locomotives. On the same tracks, but running independent of one another.
List of cars that make up a train.
When glues ruin the surface of incompatible plastic.
Two parallel turnouts that allow a train to move from one track to the other.
A string of cars, OR a chunk taken out of a hillside. (see 'fill')
Very little paint of the tip of a brush used to highlight details when weathering.
Bend down under some benchwork to get to another area of the layout.
A two part glue.
Boards for decoration on the front of a layout.
Hidden tracks where you can move cars around, often by hand.
Add in dirt or 'fill' to bring a grade up to level.
Thin pieces of plastic or metal left on a casting.
Flexible, when you lay them, pieces of track. Rigid when nailed down.
Make up your own design.
The point where the track's rails cross the turnout's rails in a switch.
Distance between the rails. Prototype in America is 4' 8.5"
Long, short open topped car for hauling steel and scrap metals.
Grab iron (Grab)
Handles on the sides of cars or equipment.
Angle or rise or fall of tracks as they follow the land.
The direction in wood of the fibers.
Synthetic rubber ground and dyed to resemble ground cover.
Making scenery, like mountains and hills, using plaster dipped paper towels. Laid over a light frame.
A spiral of tracks, raising or lowering. Used on multilevel layouts.
Additional locomotive used to help a train get over a difficult or steep spot.
Hook & Horn
A term used for the NMRA standard couplers. You usually find these on most of the cars purchased today.
Person that moves locomotives around.
Paperboard often used for roadbed.
Open top car, tall sides. Coal and gravel, emptied through chutes at the base.
Shipments combining more than one method of transportation, such as carrying tractor-trailers on the rails, and then switching them to ships, and then back to the trucks.
Self-propelled trains in cities, such as a trolley.
Load bearing part of an axle that rides in the support bearing or sideframe.
A type of coupler called the Knuckle. Made by Kadee and is preferred by serious modelers over the hook and horn type.
Pivot point of a truck that connects it to the bolster.
Mixing parts of kits to make your own creation.
Portion where travel is heaviest.
A section built to dimensions and standards, to be included with other modules in a large layout. N-Trak is one.
MOW Maintenance of Way
Used by railroads to maintain the tracks.
National Model Railroad Association NMRA.ORG
Rails spaced smaller than standard gauge; often used in mines and logging areas.
Running model trains to simulate the prototype.
Portions of a turnout or switch that move.
The actual, real life, full-sized object that is modeled.
A part of folded metal used to connect a butt joint between two rails.
Refrigerator box car used to haul foods. No air conditioner or ice.
Material used for casting.
Foundations of tracks.
The cars on a train.
Proportion to the prototype a model is built.
Not using kits to build models.
Score a cut, not all the way through.
Metal that melts at low temperatures. Joins brass model pieces, and electrical wires.
Versatile plastic used in modeling. Many sizes and shapes. Metallic sound when struck.
Banking tracks on a curve to allow for higher speeds.
A track that allows trains to swap routes.
Often on toy trains, couplers attached on the trucks. Allows for tighter curves, but prone to derailments when backed up.
Carries fuel and water for steam engines.
Point in a yard where all the tracks converge or diverge.
Electrically run trains in cities.
Wheel assembly a train car rides on.
Allows movement from one track to another. Modeler's term for switch, so as not to confuse it with an electrical switch.
Simulating years of abuse on models by washing them in chalks, etc.
A turnout or switch track that curves both left and right.
A group of tracks where trains are sorted out, staged, and then recombined.