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bob-tailed drag

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bob-tailed drag
Posted by Ignatosky on Friday, January 13, 2017 5:40 PM

In John Armstrong's Track Planning for Realistic Operation", he states, "....even with our typical bob-tailed drags of 12 to 15 cars.".

What is a bob-tailed drag? I'm guessing a short train.

Pat Bandy

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Posted by gmpullman on Friday, January 13, 2017 5:45 PM

I'm sure he's refering to the necessarily abbreviated trains we have to accept as normal on our scaled-down railroads. Bob-Tailed isn't a term I've ever encountered in railroading, though.

Truck tractors running with out trailers, yes, bob-tailing. Engines without cars, light engines or with a caboose coupled is a caboose hop.

Bob-tail? New one to me... 

bob·tail

  (bŏb′tāl′)

n.
1. short or shortened tail.
2. An animal, such as a horse, having a short or shortened tail.
3. Something that has been cut short or abbreviated.

Regards, Ed

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Posted by NittanyLion on Friday, January 13, 2017 8:11 PM

Just a more poetic way to say "shortened train." 

Drag like coal drag 

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Posted by doctorwayne on Friday, January 13, 2017 8:13 PM

I think that the descriptor is apt, although lots of branchline jobs on the real railroads could have been 12 or 15 cars or even much shorter.
Like most, my grades are too steep, my towns too close together, and the layout too small by at least a couple of acres. 

It's meant to represent a secondary branchline, so trains are short....that's my story, anyway, and I'm stickin' to it! Whistling

Wayne

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Posted by BRAKIE on Friday, January 13, 2017 8:43 PM

Ignatosky

In John Armstrong's Track Planning for Realistic Operation", he states, "....even with our typical bob-tailed drags of 12 to 15 cars.".

What is a bob-tailed drag? I'm guessing a short train.

 

I suppose on today's double and triple level basement layouts John's 12-15 cars would be a local while 30-40 car freights would be the norm. There are videos on You Tube that shows 20-30 car trains on a large layouts.

OTOH John's 12-15 cars would be a long train if modern cars was being used instead of 40 footers. Even 7 of my 50' boxcars with a SW8 looks long since it almost fills two 36" sections of flex track-that's 6 feet.

 

Larry

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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Friday, January 13, 2017 9:54 PM

Ignatosky

In John Armstrong's Track Planning for Realistic Operation", he states, "....even with our typical bob-tailed drags of 12 to 15 cars.".

What is a bob-tailed drag? I'm guessing a short train.

 

This is an example of John Armstrong's humorous turn of phrase that frequently showed up in his writing.  I periodically reread his works just because I enjoy his writing style.

Paul

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Posted by ATSFGuy on Friday, January 13, 2017 10:49 PM

I've heard of "Boat-Tailed" and "Beaver Tailed", but never heard of anything like "Bob-Drag".  Where did you hear or see that term?

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Posted by cuyama on Friday, January 13, 2017 10:50 PM

Also bear in mind that Armstrong wrote those words in the First Edition more than 50 years ago. The phrase "bob-tailed", meaning "something shortened from what's typical", may have been in more common circulation in the general language at that time.

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Posted by cuyama on Friday, January 13, 2017 10:53 PM

ATSFGuy
I've heard of "Boat-Tailed" and "Beaver Tailed", but never heard of anything like "Bob-Drag".  Where did you hear or see that term?

To quote the first post in the thread:

Ignatosky
In John Armstrong's Track Planning for Realistic Operation", he states, "....even with our typical bob-tailed drags of 12 to 15 cars.".

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Posted by ATSFGuy on Friday, January 13, 2017 10:55 PM

It could be slang for running a meduim sized train.

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Friday, January 13, 2017 11:53 PM

IIRC, Mr. Armstrong was describing operations where a Yellowstone would head-end fifteen (or fewer) ore cars and a bobber caboose - if the builder surgically modified a #8 into a curved turnout to make the siding longer.  I seem to recall that as the same article where he advanced the theory that a train would seem longer if you couldn't see both ends at once.

Prototype for a (comparatively) big loco on a short train?  How about the CB&Q Deadwood branch.  The 4000 class 2-6-6-2s were only rated 250 tons, and the route was the last stand of the bobber caboose because it was ten tons lighter than its 8-wheel counterparts.

Chuck (Modeling Central Japan in September, 1964)

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Posted by selector on Friday, January 13, 2017 11:57 PM

"...Put my money on a bob-tail nag,

Sumbuddy bet on the bay."

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Posted by ATSFGuy on Saturday, January 14, 2017 2:34 AM

Wasn't that a song or something?

Sounds familiar.

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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Saturday, January 14, 2017 3:41 AM

Camptown Races, version I know has it:

I bet my money on a bob-tailed nag
Somebody bet on the gray

Paul

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Posted by BRAKIE on Saturday, January 14, 2017 6:49 AM

gmpullman
Engines without cars, light engines or with a caboose coupled is a caboose hop.

Ed,Such moves was called a light move on the PRR and Chessie(C&O). I suppose if one looks through the volumes of railfan and model railroaders jargon one would find that "caboose hop" right next to "lash up".

 

 

Larry

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Posted by DAVID FORTNEY on Saturday, January 14, 2017 7:02 AM

So the answer is------nobody really knows.

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Posted by gregc on Saturday, January 14, 2017 7:58 AM

 

there are quite a few hits for "bob-trailed train" in google

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by gregc on Saturday, January 14, 2017 8:33 AM

 

from Railroad Magazine, 1949

It was still a bob-tailed train, though, because the G&N doesn't see fit to own a caboose. It uses any empty boxcar that's handy for this purpose. 

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by mbinsewi on Saturday, January 14, 2017 8:37 AM

OK, I vote for Ed's response.  Laugh

Mike.

EDIT:  I see the CN local with as few as 4 cars.

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Posted by ACY Tom on Saturday, January 14, 2017 9:53 AM

A bob-tailed nag is a horse that has its tail cut short. Ergo, it seems that Mr. Armstrong was talking about the rather short freight trains typically seen on model railroads. That fits the context of the comment. 

Tom

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Posted by BRAKIE on Saturday, January 14, 2017 11:02 AM

Tom,I wonder do we need more jargon? Why not call it what it is a short train?  Heaven knows our hobby has enough confusing terms as it is.

You will never hear a professional railroader call a short train a bob tail.You will hear KCLAZ had light tonnage today or maybe LAKCZ was shorter then normal today.

Terms like lash up,caboose hop and bob tail should be filed in the round can and forgotten.

Larry

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“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.
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Posted by dknelson on Saturday, January 14, 2017 12:05 PM

It's just a play on words, of which John Armstrong was very fond, but obviously like any play on words is only funny if you know the reference, in this case the song Camptown Races, which back in the 1950s or 60s was just a song everyone learned to sing in school, by the famous Stephen Foster. Because the song is in an obvious "dialect" that now has offensive racial connotations relating to minstrel shows, I am sure the song is no longer in school song books as it was back then.   Just about the only Stephen Foster song that doesn't offend is Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair, and that probably offends someone now that I think of it.   

Dave Nelson

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Posted by NittanyLion on Saturday, January 14, 2017 12:08 PM

Its just a phrase that I writer came up with to make his writing a bit more jazzy. It's not invented slang or something. No different than saying "truncated" or "abbreviated" or "reduced."

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Saturday, January 14, 2017 1:06 PM

NittanyLion

Its just a phrase that I writer came up with to make his writing a bit more jazzy. It's not invented slang or something. No different than saying "truncated" or "abbreviated" or "reduced."

In the same spirit, I have been heard referring to a severe case of selective compression as, "The Reader's Digest edition."

Chuck (Sometime author modeling Central Japan in September, 1964)

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Posted by Pantherphil on Saturday, January 14, 2017 4:28 PM

A multi level play on words.  Thought of Camptown Races as soon as I saw the caption.  Wonder if a bob tail drag has a bobber caboose.

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Posted by selector on Saturday, January 14, 2017 4:30 PM

dknelson

It's just a play on words, of which John Armstrong was very fond,...  

Dave Nelson

 

It is certainly that, what is known as literary license.  Armstrong inserted a tongue-in-cheek expression, a pun.  I appreciate it for its intent and execution.

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Posted by sandusky on Saturday, January 14, 2017 8:55 PM
somebody bet on the bay.....
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Posted by jeffhergert on Sunday, January 15, 2017 11:54 AM

BRAKIE

Tom,I wonder do we need more jargon? Why not call it what it is a short train?  Heaven knows our hobby has enough confusing terms as it is.

You will never hear a professional railroader call a short train a bob tail.You will hear KCLAZ had light tonnage today or maybe LAKCZ was shorter then normal today.

Terms like lash up,caboose hop and bob tail should be filed in the round can and forgotten.

 

When we have a train (usually a manifest) that is running less than it's normal 10000-15000 feet, some will call it a "baby train".  Railroad slang is and was often railroad and/or regional specific.  Some terms are still in use while others have fallen by the wayside.  Once in a while a new term might get added.  Again, it might only be used in a specific area.   

Some of the old CNW hands I work with, who actually rode on them, refer to a caboose today when they see one as a caboose.  When talking about the old days when working and riding them, they become "way cars". 

Jeff 

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Posted by BRAKIE on Sunday, January 15, 2017 12:44 PM

jeffhergert
 
BRAKIE

Tom,I wonder do we need more jargon? Why not call it what it is a short train?  Heaven knows our hobby has enough confusing terms as it is.

You will never hear a professional railroader call a short train a bob tail.You will hear KCLAZ had light tonnage today or maybe LAKCZ was shorter then normal today.

Terms like lash up,caboose hop and bob tail should be filed in the round can and forgotten.

 

 

 

When we have a train (usually a manifest) that is running less than it's normal 10000-15000 feet, some will call it a "baby train".  Railroad slang is and was often railroad and/or regional specific.  Some terms are still in use while others have fallen by the wayside.  Once in a while a new term might get added.  Again, it might only be used in a specific area.   

Some of the old CNW hands I work with, who actually rode on them, refer to a caboose today when they see one as a caboose.  When talking about the old days when working and riding them, they become "way cars". 

Jeff 

 

jeffhergert
Railroad slang is and was often railroad and/or regional specific.

Correct like "Did you see PIIN yesterday? A real garbage train".. No,PIIN was not hauling garbage but,the train consist was made up of every type of freight car including empty well cars. I overheard two CR conductors  at the old Crestline RRYMCA talking about that while I was enjoying a cup of coffee and a slice of their fabulous coconut cream pie..

I doubt if modelers would know what a stinky train is..That was a local PRR term for a live stock train empty or loaded. One whiff of the wind off those cars as they rolled by one could clearly understand that name.

These trains disappeared in Columbus around 54/55 but,several "meat packer express" trains was added and would disappear in the late 60s along with those gorgeous looking PFE/FGX reefer trains..

Larry

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“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.

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