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Terms I've heard:

"Car toad"

"Car knocker"

"Wheel knocker"

However, most often I simply referred to it as the "Car Dept" and called a member of the car department by their name instead of a condescending slang term. We had some good ones on the A&M. It was amazing how they could quickly fix what us train service guys could tear up.

Now, it's my understanding that the KCS guys used a very unique term for their car department workers: "Cod Molly". (Or maybe it was one word "Codmolly".)


I have a  "Toad Can" ( a oil can with a long neck used to reoil old brass axle bearings).

A old railroad friend told about an Car Toad with the Santa Fe that was let go.  Others in the yard notice that the man would oil the bearing on the cars BUT did not refill his toad can with oil all day long.  A check of  his toad can find the end plugged with packing waste.  So it looked like he was oiling the bearing, but was not adding oil to the bearing boxes.

These were slang terms for a Carman or Carmen.   They are members of the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen.   This name was lost with a union merger in 1986. They are now part of the machinist union.  Carman did inspection, maintenance and construction of railway freight care, passenger cars, locomotive cabs and tenders. They also rebuilt air brake valves, ran wheel shops, mare and recovered furniture, and did most painting. The car knocker name probably comes from the small special hammer that car inspectors carried to tap on wheels, especially cast iron wheels.  The experienced car inspector could listen to how the wheel rang, and based on this they could detect wheels with cracks in them.

In the shop I worked in, a carman would get an extra days pay if they found a wheel with a crack in it. One of my car inspectors has found two cracked wheels in his carrier.

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