Re: Terms For Freight Car Parts

Randy Hammill

Some of us are more OCD than others. 

I agree in terms of it improving your modeling, other than using consistent terms helps ensure we are talking about the same thing. But part of being a prototype modeler for me is learning about the prototype, and while in times past the colloquial terms might have been used where access to the published terms was more limited, nowadays there is a lot more information available.

But sometimes it also makes a difference in the modeling too. The RP Cyc articles that (finally) identified and detailed the history and terminology of the different offset hopper variations is a huge help in modeling the variations accurately. 

Sometimes terms are non-industry standard, like “post-war box car” which is generally understood to mean “1941 AAR Alternate Standard Box Car with Improved Dreadnaught Ends,” is useful because there were a large number of cars with that configuration.

But sometimes it’s also confusing. For example, what’s the difference between an “Interim Improved Dreadnaught End,” and an, “Improved Dreadnaught End.” best I can tell, they are the same. One is the actual term used by the builder, and the other an invented term, and one that irritates me as well. “Interim” would imply that it is a stop-gap. A temporary implementation until the “real” end is completed. And it was no such thing. It was an end, that also evolved over time like many other things produced over a period of time. But perhaps the person who coined it had a very specific use in mind which has been lost in time. That’s a problem with invented terms, because the meaning can vary over time, where the published term was fixed at the time of publication. It doesn’t mean that it won’t ever change, nor that there may not be multiple terms in use. But at least there’s industry documentation to refer to.

But in general, I just like learning more about the railroad, and once I know the industry published term I prefer to use that.


Randy Hammill
Modeling the New Haven Railroad 1946-1954

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