Highballing, where did it come from?

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by Lightbender, Jan 4, 2004.

  1. Lightbender

    Lightbender Member

    I was having a conversation with a fellow enthusiast when the origin of the term we all use so flagrantly was questioned.

    I assumed it was taken from some ancient steam pressure reading device that was a precursor to those high tech modern fangled dial jobbies.

    Does anyone know the real origin?

    Hoping I was close.
  2. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Many years ago when the railroads was still new they used a steel ball as signals.A low ball meant stop.A ball displayed half way on the signal pole meant caution reduce speed and a ball at the top of the pole meant a clear track proceed at track speed..The crews would call out "Low ball for stop,medium ball for caution and high ball for when the ball was at the top of the pole so the term "Highball" comes from those days.At night these balls would be lite by using coal oil.

    Another term is Ballin' the jack for fast running as well as ballast scorcher and Red Balling(I don't know how that term got its origin but heard it used many times).
  3. Lightbender

    Lightbender Member

    Thanks brakie,

    Of course, it makes sense that an engineer goes fast because he has been instructed that it's OK rather than just having sufficient head of steam to be a hooligan. Reassuring too, haha. I can't remember hearing this term in England. I appreciate your response.
  4. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    I assume having a "highball" means you'll quickly find youself rollin' down the pike?

  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I think one of the early rule books contained the line, "If the ball is not to be seen, it must not be passed."

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