Re: Terminology


Kyle Coble says:


Oh man, why in the world would you want to bring this up again? The terminology discussion seems to come up from time to time and to what end. Are we filling out legal documents? Are we on trial or giving a deposition?”


Note the STMFC rule:


“Emphasis is to be placed on the study of the prototype with a goal of producing models of them with as great a degree of accuracy as possible.”


Assuming one pursues the above criteria, a similar goal of seeking as great a degree of accuracy in terminology seems warranted. Just as a term such as “turnout” might have different meaning to different people [ note that two entire chapters are dedicated to “turnout’s” in the book Elements of Railroad Track and Construction, by Wilson, published in 1915  and considerable discussion regarding “turnouts” can be found in the book Freight Terminals & Trains, originally published in 1912 by John Droege which includes turnout design effects on freight cars ], clearly, the term “turnout” is not a model railroad defined term. . OTOH, while the STMFC DOES have a goal of producing “accurate” models AND [ putting on my Head Judge robes { damn hot too } their associated terminology, members will not be prosecuted for failing to generate either “accurate” models or their associated terminology. Thus, if you refer to the paint scheme on a UP box car built in 1950 as being black, you might not be asked your opinion again but you will still be a member in good standing on the STMFC.


To emphasize that when someone decides to specify the terminology of freight cars they might be opening a large can of worms, consider UP car #1 [ in 1951 ]. This car is a “covered hopper” to borrow a term from the local operating crew. It’s official AAR designation is “LO”. The official UP class designation is CH-70-1.  What would a a brakeman call it? Probably #1.

So, to conclude, I would speculate that, if you stopped at trackside at the entrance to Cheyenne yard waiting on UP 4-8-8-4 steam engine #4014 to come by in 2019 or later, and you asked someone if the “4000” had left yet, they would likely respond with “4000” what? The point being that you would be well served to use the terminology of your audience. Now, having said that, what department do you associate most with…ops or engineering? I guess that depends on your objectives…building accurate frt cars or running them like the prototype did.


Kyle continues with:

“… so as long as the listener or reader understands what the speaker or writer is communicating what on earth does the “proper” term matter?”


Well, an analogy might be that, if someone builds a model of UP CH-70-1 but neglects to include the hatches, does it really matter? I mean, the car is lettered for a UP CH-70-1 so it must be one. Right? I would say it depends again upon the objective. I think I’d put hatches on the car and as accurately as possible. Also, I think I’d refer to the CH-70-1 as a covered hopper car as opposed to a gondola.


Mike Brock

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