pilot or cow catcher

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curiousmarcus

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I read somewhere somebody said that the term cow catcher is mostly found in children's books. Which term do adults normally use? Or is this another case of the mechanic versus the layman?
 

Skrej

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It's not a widely used term either way, these days. The big V-shaped ones are largely a thing of the past - you'll still seem them on restored steam engines, mostly because they're traditional and nostalgic.

Modern diesel locomotives have a flatter, less pronounced wedge shape.

Unless you work on the railroad or are a train enthusiast, most people probably wouldn't even know what you're talking about. I'd forgotten that's what the things were called until I did some research.

According to Webster, 'pilot' was the preferred term for railroad workers.
 
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emsr2d2

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Until reading Skrej's post, I had no idea what you were talking about. I assumed a cow catcher was a person who caught cows, presumably by chasing them round a field!

Trains in the UK have no such things attached.
 

GoesStation

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I think cow catcher is pretty widely understood by Americans, at least in the context of old steam engines.
 

SoothingDave

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Yes, I understand "cow catcher."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullbar

Interestingly enough, the Candian term for the bars placed on the front of trucks/SUVs to protect is "moose bumper."
 

Rover_KE

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That's interesting, Marcus; I don't think it does.

I've known 'cow catcher' from familiarity with old American movie steam locomotives since I was a small boy 70 years ago, but I've never heard of 'push bar' (or 'pilot' in this context).

I added 'cow catcher' to the Ngram you linked to, with the expected result, though I'm surprised that 'push bar' comes so high up, especially as none of the American responders here so far have mentioned it.
 

Tdol

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I hadn't heard the term push bar, but Google is full of images of cars fitted with them.
 
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