Naming/nubering designations

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by ezdays, Aug 15, 2003.

  1. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Naming/numbering designations

    OK, another basic RR question. I’m finally advancing my layout to where I’m going to build a control panel and think I’m going to have to start calling my track equipment something since I may choose to locate my control switches apart from the layout graphics. When I first started to peruse MRR forums, I remember seeing something about naming tunnels but numbering bridges. Is this correct? If so, how do they number them? Surly the must have some complex numbering scheme. How about turnouts? Ya gotta call them something, so how are these designated? Passes, hills, curves, sidings and such, do these all get names as well? I was watching a two-hour, two-part show on the “Tennessee Pass” on TV and they mentioned the name of a siding, so maybe passes and sidings get names????? I also saw somewhere here about how some railroads number their engines. Does it matter that much or is this being picky and just showing “correctness”? How about cars? I’d hate to re-paint a boxcar and have someone let me know I used the numbering scheme for a tank car. Geeze, how embarrassing,:eek: almost as bad as using an engine for a prototype that never used that model engine. :eek::eek:

    So to summarize, how do we (if we do) designate the following in the prototype (thus our) world:

    Water tanks
    Refueling stations
    Anything else that is pertinent that I didn’t list….

    This may require a longer answer than you care to give, then pick and choose, or maybe offer a link.


  2. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Don around the southeast anyway everything you mentioned except cars and locos was named not numbered for the most part. BTW as a general rule, pass is a western term, in the northeast it's a notch and here in the south usually a gap. Example, the show you were watching was on the Tenn. pass out west (not to be confused with the state of Tenn. ) In New England a famous one is Crawford Notch. And the most famous one in the south (well on my railroad anyway :D :D :D ) is Tellico Gap. Numbering of cars and locos can vary from R.R. to R.R. but a common practice for locos was for the first number or numbers to be the same as the type or horsepower. Hypothetical example : If a R.R. had bought 10 GP 75's with 6,000 horsepower they could be numbered 7501-7510 or 6001 thru 6010. I'm sure there were other ways also and hopefully someone here will clue you in, as far as cars go I think it was something similar, but won't swear to it!
  3. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member


    if you really want to number your tracks, turnouts, sidings etc. then take a look at the Kalmbach book "Trackwork and Lineside Detail" ($ 17,95). This is not exactly cheap, but IMHO it is one of the best how-to-do-it books around.

    Everything is covered - from laying flextrack to handlaying turnouts, guardrails, switchstands, signs and mileposts, telegraph line poles...

    ...and yes, principles of prototype track identification, be it numbers or names: Main lines, sidings, industrial tracks and so on.


    BTW: On your list you forgot mileposts. Why not set a "Mile 0" post somewhere on your layout, e.g. at the rail end/rail center of your most important station on the line? And then plant dozens of (s)mileposts along the line...
    (Just a suggestion to give you still more hours to spend at your workbench :D )
  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    The comment about naming tunnels and numbering bridges was mine -- i read it somewhere, but I think they referred to bridges over the track.
    In Britain, sections of yards or sheds might be referred to by events that ocurred when they were built. And tracks leading to railroads that no longer exist would still have the old railraod's name. Or an old industry. ("Aye, lad, turrn rright wherre Jenkins' barn used to be.")
    The old standard was that a station (in a timetable) could be anything that had a name in the timetable. Now, some railroads are referring to them by the milepost. The milepost is used for between stations reference as more accurate than "about hafway between Brampton and Georgetown".
    Cars and locomotives that were named usually had numbers as well. Named cars were usually ones that were fancier than a day-coach -- sleepers, diners, domes.
  5. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Thanks for the comments. I just can't see a western movie where the hero says, "lets head them off at the notch." :eek: I guess that's why they shoot westerns here in the west.:rolleyes:

    Thanks Ron, I'll see if I can find a copy of that book. Sounds like it would be a big help, even at that price.

    And I do remember passenger cars having names, but I thought that was just for show for the upper class. "Mrs. Gotrocks, you will be seated in row 24, PRR #10984239 and you will be dining in #19866430" doesn't sound too classy.:D

  6. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Don, I just looked into - they sell the book for $13.27 (plus p&p). If you don't have a LHS which you'd like to support, that is...

  7. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    Thanks, there is one train shop that has a large library of books, but it is about 80 miles away from here and I only stop by when I've got other things to do in the area. My best bet is to order it by mail.

  8. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    I can give a few prototype examples for intentifying railroad locations.

    Bridges & Tunnels:

    On the Western Maryland Connelsville Extension west of Cumberland there were two large bridges, Salisbury Viaduct and Keystone Viaduct that were named for nearby locations on the railroad. On CSX's Keystone Subdivision, Sand Patch Tunnel is named for a small community at the west portal of the tunnel. Farther east on CSX's Cumberland Sub there are many bridges and tunnels. One bridge, Magnolia, is named for the location, but another (Kessler) remains a mystery. There are also a number of tunnels that are named for no apparent reason (Graham, Carothers, Stuart, and Randolph).


    On CSX absolute signals are named (Okonoko, East Deshler, N.A., etc.) while intermediate signals are numbered (59.5, 160.6, etc.). When crews call signals they have a habit of renaming places for whatever reason.

    On NS's ex-Conrail lines most all locations are numbered, and just happen to be numbered in the area I live out of Buffalo, New York. Consequently, these signals have high numbers, because I'm far from Buffalo, in the 300-range.
  9. TinGoat

    TinGoat Ignorant know it all

    Be consistantly inconsistant...

    I've been reading about traction railroads in Southern Ontario.

    So numbering is an arbitrary thing and the rules for numbering change all the time...

    It seems that no railroad starts out with Loco #1 and then #2 and so on...

    Use significant #'s in you life, like the birth dates of your family, or wedding anniversaries...

    Like my birthday (Year, Month, Day) 19660115 for rolling stock and (Day, Month) 1501 for Locomotives...
  10. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Re: Be consistantly inconsistant...

    That's how I've been doing it - just random numbers. The first loco I built is numbered 1701. If you dont know the significance - you're not a Star Trek fan :) I've actually been following The Gauge Numbering Designations for the few other things I've built.

    Have Fun! :) :)
  11. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    That's cool. I didn't know that existed and I thank you for letting me and other know. And there is no doubt about the significance of 1701.


    4Nscale has the book at $14.95 and I'm getting some other stuff from them so for a buck more I'd rather support them then some amazon.that has enough money without my help. :rolleyes:

    Thanks again, I knew I'd get some good information on this thread.

    D;) N
  12. Keith 55

    Keith 55 New Member

    DON, for a lot of these it's going to be easy. In the real world, all cities, towns, streams and rivers, mountains and hills, and businesses have names. Name all these things on your layout. Then the bridge over the xyz river is the xyz bridge. The tunnel through abc mountain is the abc tunnel. The siding that goes to town or business tuv is tuv siding and so on. That's how most are named. For switches, many people # the one closest to the enginehouse, station or other "starting point" and # sequentially from there. Towers, tanks, yards, signals etc. just name for closest landmark, depot, station or town. Many of the obscure names for tunnels, bridges, etc on RRs are named after the people who designed them, sold the RR the land, died during construction, etc, so if you're free-lancing your layout you can name them after friends and relatives, (your wife gets to pick what you name after her-trust me-no gulches), your kids, or whatever. Have fun with these.
    For cars there are rules for the letters and that designate tank vs box, etc, then each RR #s them according to their own system. The books will guide you through this.
    Good luck, be creative, and have fun!

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