Why do they call them "motors?"

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MARC Rider

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So yesterday, while I was delayed an hour because they had to replace the ACS64, I  was sitting in the fist car and got to hear a lot of the work crew's conversation.  They referred to the said ACS 64 as the "motor," not the "engine" or the "locomotive."  I  am aware that an electric power unit i as called a "motor," but I don't know why this os the case.  True, an "engine," such as a P42 is powered by an internal combustion diesel,  but I call the internal combustion thingy that powers my car a "motor."  This seems to be inconsistent with railroad usage.  Anybody know the origin of this terminology?
 

Seaboard92

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I always call an electric a motor. I think it might be a slang term that originated in the Pennsylvania Railroad. But I don't know for a fact.
 

west point

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Heard in WASH  This motor is not going to make oy need another motor  ……………….

Didn't Milwaukee also call theirs motors ?
 
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MARC Rider

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This is very helpful.  Certainly the use of "engine" as a synonym for "locomotive" is erroneous.  But both diesels and electrics have motors, but only the diesels have engines.  But then again, many call the engine in their car a "motor," which is also erroneous.  I  guess in common usage, there's no difference between the two any more.

Now what should we call electric locomotives powered by batteries or fuel cells?
 

VTTrain

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In casual conversation, I really don’t care if someone uses the term locomotive or engine.  I know what they mean.  I’m not into pedantry.   
 

jis

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In casual conversation, I really don’t care if someone uses the term locomotive or engine.  I know what they mean.  I’m not into pedantry.   
Yeah. I just call them all engines or locomotives, never ever use the term motor. If someone cannot figure out what I am talking about they can pound sand :wacko: :lol:
 

cirdan

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Without wishing to lay claim to any expertese, my understanding is that the term motor is often used on metros, streetcars and such for any electrically powered vehicle. You can find it quite  a lot especially in older (as in pre 1950s) technical books and journals. I guess that as powered vehicles in such contexts typically have seats, they're not strictly locomotives. But they don't necessarily have seats. for example there are (or were) works, switching, freight and special duty motors. So calling them railcars  wasn't precise either. So motors is just the most generalist term that applies to all such vehicles. As there always was a bit of a fuzzy dilineation between interurbans and electrified heavy rail, and the same manufacturers supplied both, I guess some terminology osmosed  over.
 

PerRock

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How about we all just agree to call them "Power Units" ;P

peter

Edit: come to think of it, the generic term we use at work for any type of construction truck is "Prime Mover" which would work to describe a locomotive.
 
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Burns651

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But then again, many call the engine in their car a "motor," which is also erroneous.  I  guess in common usage, there's no difference between the two any more.
By that reasoning, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors had "erroneous" names, since for most of their history they built only internal combustion units. To throw more confusion into it, for decades Chevrolet operated the Flint Motor Plant and the Flint Engine Plant. I imagine the different terms were used merely to avoid confusing the two factories, since they both exclusively built internal combustion units.
 

trainman74

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Los Angeles has a street called Motor Avenue, which Waze sometimes routes me on during my commute. I looked for info on the origin of the name, but didn't find anything definitive -- streetcars seems to be the obvious answer, and the Pacific Electric Railway's Palms Depot was located near the intersection of Motor and National Blvd., but the tracks ran along National. (The Expo Line is now on that right-of-way, and its modern-day Palms station is a bit further east, at National and Palms Blvd.)
 

jis

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The whole nation of UK must be "erroneous", since they call their limited access highways Motorways... Oh wait, isn't English their original invention? :lol:

AFAIS this is clearly a case of a small segment of railroad pedants trying to spread their usage claims to try to claim universality of same.
 
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