The Long  Island Rail Road Bobber Hacks

LIRR Caboose list ICC Report 1916
lirr13_Speonk-Frt-in-Patchogue-Team-Yard-1915.jpg (723582 bytes)
LIRR #13 Speonk bound freight Patchogue Team Yard 1915
Archive: Ron Ziel

Prior to the arrival of the N52 types, there had been a total of 24 little four wheeled "hacks" that looked a lot like the old ND cabins on the "Penn." Some of these still remained in service up until the end of 1927; this accounts for the missing numbers 13, 17, 26, and 32 that were never assigned among the N52ís numbered 10 through 48. Numbers 13, 26, and 32 were built as late as 1911 and were among the five of them that actually remained until 1927. The other two had the numbers 4 and 5, which were not going to be reassigned anyway. Four-wheeler No. 17 went out in 1925, almost coincident with the delivery of the batch of new "hacks" that would ordinarily have included that number. Number 17 was never reassigned either.

By the early 1900s, the Pennsylvania Railroad and its subsidiary Long Island RR were still using all-wood, four-wheeled caboose cars, but all of this would soon start to change when the PRR built the first such car with a steel underframe as early as 1903, even long before such a "safety" feature would be mandated by law. Those first steel underframe cars were known as class ND and some of these became 'precursors of the eight-wheel type when they underwent conversions that would have two separate trucks instead of the straight four-wheel configuration.

Trains were getting heavier and longer, while locomotives were becoming larger and more powerful and the caboose had to do more than just "keep up" with the end of the train, as it was often being subjected to terrific forces when sandwiched between the train and a helper engine pushing behind ft at the rear.  Many of the four-wheelers were still relatively new, having, been built as late as 1905. PRR shops throughout lines west of Pittsburgh dealt with the problem by salvaging the bodies of usable four-wheelers and rebuilding them into "stretch" versions that would be placed on top of eight-wheel steel underframes that had been prepared for them. These would become the very well known ND types. In 1914, PRR shops at Altoona built 'the world's first all steel eight-wheel caboose which would become class N5.

Replacement of the four-wheelers on the LIRR began in 1916 with the construction of numbers 33 thru 35 which were steel underframe, eight-wheel cars patterned after the N5 in dimensions and layout except that they were of "composite" construction (having an iron-reinforced wooden superstructure) and were designated as sub-class "N52." Three more of these (numbers 36 thru 38) were built the following year. These six were all built in the LIRR's own shops. Thus started the gradual disappearance of the old four-wheelers, the last of which was not taken out of service until ten years later.


Page 19 LIRR Caboose Cars (Bobber Hacks) Build dates listing from: 1916 LIRR ICC Report

Chronological Build Year Caboose No.:

No. Built Scrap
3 1899
10 1899
11 1899
6 1899
7 1899
12 1900


15 1900
16 1902
17 1902 1925
19 1904
20 1904 5/1925
21 1904
2 1905
22 1905  
9 1905
18 1906
23 1906
24 1906
25 1906
4 1908


26 1908 1927
5 1911


32 1911 1927
13 1911 1927


LIAnnRpt1898s.jpg (265311 bytes)
LIRR Annual Report 6/30/1898, and 06/30/1897
Thirty-four 8-wheel [2 truck] including 5 leased and two 4-wheel bobbers in 1898; with an overall addition of one Hack between 1897 and 1898.  Archive: Art Huneke
bobber10131904.jpg (79911 bytes)
LIRR Bobber Hack 10/13/1904
Archive: Art Huneke

AtlanticDivision10131904.jpg (48517 bytes)
LIRR Atlantic Division, Conduit System work. Bobber Hack in background 
10/13/1904 Archive: Art Huneke

Dunton station on the Atlantic branch. Grade crossing in photo is Van Wyck Avenue. View is looking east. "AC" tower (Jamaica Cross Switches) is at right visible between the telegraph poles. The yard visible is the west end of the old Jamaica storage yard, prior to the 1913 grade elimination.

Morris Park shops would be behind the photographer a little ways.
 Research: Dave Keller