• "F"

  • General discussion about locomotives, rolling stock, and equipment
General discussion about locomotives, rolling stock, and equipment

Moderator: John_Perkowski


  by Joe
What the heck does "F" mean on locomotives and cabcars? These Fs are on EMDs, GEs, and anything, it appears, that has a cab. BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN?! :P


  by SD Shortline
That letter "F" designates the front end of a locomotive. Whether or not the long-hood is front or not as on pre-wide cab NS units. It started out with center cab diesel such as 44-Tonner's so crews and the public would have an idea to which way it was facing.

  by SSW9389
I thought the "F" was a federal requirement for all locomotives?

  by DutchRailnut
it is a federal requirement.




Subpart A--General

Sec. 229.11 Locomotive identification.

(a) The letter ``F'' shall be legibly shown on each side of every
locomotive near the end which for identification purposes will be known
as the front end.
(b) The locomotive number shall be displayed in clearly legible
numbers on each side of each locomotive.

  by Joe
Thanks everyone. :-D That makes sense (except that it's pretty easy to tell the front on modern-day locomotives.) What about double-ended locomotives like AEM 7s and HHP-8s? Do they have two "F"s?

  by DutchRailnut
No they only have one F end. Locomotives like AEM7 - ALP46 - HHP8 - Centercabs etc is why a rule like the above quoted are in existance.

  by Tadman
The "F" rule exists to refer the crew which end the conductor intends to move/etc... It's obvious where the F end of a geep is, but try that with double ended or MU, like South Shore, where each MU has both F and B ends. (front and back)

  by BR&P
Actually it's not always obvious where the F end of a geep is. Some shortlines are still using old 7's and 9's, some of which are long hood front. And there are a few ALCO C420s from the Long Island still running which have a long-hood front arrangement.

  by txbritt
That makes sense (except that it's pretty easy to tell the front on modern-day locomotives.)

Doesn't NS still run their equipment longhood forward? I know I've seen Dash-8's when I lived in Savannah, Ga. running backwards, with the F in the rear.

Its odd looking to watch one go by.


  by SRS125
I have seen some older Locomotive models with an A marking the Front and a B marking the back end of the loco as well. IN some matters I have seen this as well on some Canadian Locomotives.

RF Right Frount
LF Left Frount
RB Right Back
LB Left Back

  by jesse corbett
"A" and "B" ends NORMALLY are used only on non powered rail units to designate which end has the hand brake mechanism. There are exceptions to every rule but by in large, the "A" end has the hand brake wheel at it. Any locomotives with the A and B marking should follow this premise. On multi-unit stack cars, then they go A,B,C,D, etc but still hold true with A being the hand brake end.

With regards to NS, the majority of all high hood units were built with the operator console on the left hand side or with dual controls to run long hood forward. By the 1980's when the high hoods and dual control stands became too expensive, NS began getting low short hoods with the control stand on the right hand side but the stand was "kicked around" a bit from standard and USUALLY the unit had two speed indicators so that in either direction the engineer had an unobstructed view of it. The last GP60's for NS were set up this way but the short hood is considered the front. With the wide cabs and desk top controllers obviously the point became moot.

With both new builders returning to "standard" control stand instead of the desk top, I would not be surprised to see dual speed indicators showing up soon. NS is requesting demo units from GE and EMD with the "old" control stand but the short hood will still be considered "front".

The main proponents of long hood first on NS (and predecessors) for safety reasons are now pretty much all retired. I will give NS credit though as their wisdom in setting up units to run equally well from an operator standpoint in either direction surely saves them a lot of spinning and wye-ing units. Spinning/wying is a major bottleneck and non revenue problem with railroads.

  by Engineer
AEM-7s and HHP-8s have an "F" end and a "B" end....

  by Joe
Ah, so that's why those multi-car doublestacks have "A, C, D, E, B," or something like that. I was wondering why it didn't go ABCDE. :-D

  by alchemist
Electric MU cars on roads subject to FRA regs (LIRR yes, NYC subway no)also carry an F at the cab end.

  by BR&P
Jesse Corbett, you have it backwards. The end of a freight car with the hand brake is the "B" end, the non-brake end is the "A" end. Think of it as "B is for Brake" and you'll keep it straight.