Definitions of Terms

  • Ballast is the gravel base upon which the track ties sit. 
  • tie is a wood or concrete crosspiece to which the rails are anchored.  It is one of the two main components to a railroad track, which are the rails and the ties.
  • turnout is a switch or a branch-out in the track.  See the picture below for a visual…
  • Guardrails are an extra set of rails placed on the inside of the running rails used by the train (see photo below).  This is safety feature to help keep a derailed train from veering too far away from the track.  This is very common across bridges.  Guardrails are especially recommended for your bridge sections that have a height at least 2 feet from top of the rail to the ground.
Guard Rail of Track on Concrete
  • Deck Girder Bridge:  A girder is a support beam for a bridge.  Decking (using ties) is then constructed on top of these beams.  The entire weight support of the bridge are the girders under the decking.  So a deck girder bridge is one in which the track is above the support.  Compare this to a truss bridge where the main structural support is above the rails.
  • Simulated rust is actually brown spray paint applied to the rails, rail plates, and bridge joints, to make them appear rusty, just like the prototype.
  • handcar is a self-propelled railroad vehicle, through the use of a manual crank or lever.
  • cart dock is a train siding that ends in a loading/unloading port where a rolling stock item can be loaded from the tracks onto a cart that can be rolled into a garage, barn, shed, etc., for storage out of the weather.  This is an alternative to a fixed train shed and is often preferred because of it flexibility and multiple uses. 
  • Rolling stock is any piece of equipment that rolls on the rails.  This includes (but is not limited to) a handcar, a freight or passenger car, or a locomotive.
  • Crossbucks is a warning signal for road crossings featuring alternating red lights and a sign shaped like an X with the words “RAILROAD CROSSING”. See photograph below.
Crossbucks with gate.