A CowCatcher, Also Known As a Cattle Catcher or Pilot, is a structural sub-assembly, typically mounted on the front beam of 1800s era steam looks. They're intended to deflect obstacles (wildlife, cattle, rocks, trees...) on the track that could derail the train; they also act as a basic snowplow in winter. CowCatchers were originally fitted with an Extended Link for Link&Pin couplers, then later had Janney\AARC\MCB5\Transition couplers. The use of CowCatchers declined as Diesel\Electric loks replaced Steam loks, however SnowPlows are routinely fitted to modern loks.
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