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Noquay - Model Railway Inglenook Layout 4mm (OO)

Glossary of Railway & Model Railway Terms


  • Back Saw - A saw with a reinforcing bar on the top edge. In modelling they are usually fine tooth saws called Razor or Snap saws.
  • Backdrop, Backscene - Background scenery usually on a wall or board behind the layout that can be painted, a printed background or a large photograph.
  • Backing Signal - A specialised form of shunt signal, used by the GWR and LSWR.
  • Baggage Car - USA term for luggage coach or wagon.
  • Ballast - Usually gravel, cinders, or crushed rock placed between ties and around track and roadbed to help prevent the track from moving, spread load, provide bearing for ties and track, and to drain water and help control weed growth.
  • Balloon Stack - Smokestack found on most old time wood burners. Many had large kite or diamond-shaped housings. The shape was used to help prevent sparks from escaping.
  • Balloon Track Or Balloon - USA term for a reverse loop.
  • Balsa - A lightweight wood sometimes used in modelling because of its light weight.
  • Banking - Assisting the working of a train, usually when ascending a grade, by attaching one or more locomotives to the rear of the train.
  • Banner Repeating Signal - A signal that provides the driver with preliminary information about whether a signal is On or Off, usually provided where sighting of that signal is inadequate.
  • Bascule Bridge - A general term for a counter-balanced lift bridge.
  • Baseboard - The baseboard is the structure carrying the model railway.
  • Basswood - A light weight wood used in modelling due to its strength and smooth grain structure. North-eastern lumber and others manufacture scale lumber in Basswood.
  • Bay Platform - A bay platform (or bay road) is a short terminal platform let into a longer one, normally for terminating branch or local trains.
  • Bellows - USA term for corridor connections: flexible connection or corridor providing access from the end of one car to another.
  • Belpaire Firebox - Square topped fireboxes typical of a Pennsylvania and Great Northern Locomotives.
  • Benchwork - A frame which is the foundation of a model railway layout. L girder and open grid (sometimes called butt-joint) are two popular types.
  • Big Boy - USA popular name for largest team locomotive, the 4-8-8-4 Union Pacific.
  • Big Wheel - USA term for a rotary snowplough.
  • Bill Of Loading - A form describing freight, its charges and destination in detail.
  • Bleed - To drain the air from the brake system.
  • Blind Drivers - Driving wheels without flanges which permit locomotives to take shaper curves than wheel arrangement would usually allow; widely used in narrow gauge.
  • Block - The track between two signals; in model railroading, isolated electrical circuits. Section of track under one control and accommodating only one train at a time.
  • Block Signal - Indicates whether block is occupied or not.
  • Board - A fixed signal or marker.
  • Bobber - A short four-wheeled caboose.
  • Body Shell - Basic body section of vehicle without internal fittings.
  • Bogie - Independent short wheel base truck with four or six wheels, capable of pivoting about the centre at which it is attached to the under frame of long vehicles.
  • Boiler - The part of a locomotive where steam is generated, Consisting essentially of a fire box surrounded by a water space in which the combustion of fuel takes place, and barrel containing the flue tubes surrounded by water.
  • Bolster - Transverse floating beam member of bogie suspension system supporting the weight of vehicle body.
  • Booster - In prototype, a small secondary stream engine which assists and increases starting power. Some trailing trucks and tender wheels feature boosters which cut off automatically after a certain speed had been reached.
  • Box Car - USA term for covered van or freight vehicle.
  • Brakeman - A member of a freight or passenger train crew. His duties are to assist the guard or conductor in any way.
  • Branch - A track turning off the trunk line.
  • Bunker - A bin, usually elevated, for storing coal.