Long Island Railroad Montauk Branch 
Questions & Answers                                          Updated: 03/01/2007
Employee Name for Montauk Branch 

Q. What was the part of the Montauk Branch that I am modeling called by employees to differentiate it from the rural eastern end of the line?

A. The part of the Montauk Branch between Jamaica and LIC is called the "Lower Montauk" by employees.

"...Every yard on the LIRR is associated with a branch. Yard A was part of and adjacent to the North Shore Freight Branch. Take that to the bank since it is reflected on LIRR valuation maps. On that same thread, the Montauk Branch started at LIC; the Montauk Cutoff (Branch) went from BLISS (BS) to Yard A."
Dick Makse


How was the Lower Montauk controlled?

The lower Montauk, being double track was/is controlled by special instruction and signal indications.

The Special Instructions name the directions.
Both tracks are governed by Rule #251 which reads:

On portions of the railroad and on designated tracks so specified in the timetable (Special Instructions), trains will run with reference to other trains in the same direction by block signals whose indications will supersede the superiority of trains.

This, of course, applies to movements traveling in the TT direction.

Movements against the current of traffic will be governed by Rule #317 which requires a train order Form#19 along with form A.
317 allows for a train to follow, as opposed to #316 which demands absolute block.

Reverse Moves made at Bliss east on #1 can be made under flag protection.
For a move like that, in the period that you are modeling, the operator at Bliss would get a verbal block on the track from the operator at Pond.

Hope this answers you question.  JJ

LIRR Signal Practices

Bill Myers recently sent me a photo of a LIRR signal at the crossing of Maspeth Avenue and the LIRR tracks. A few questions:

Q1: The LIRR signals followed PRR practice, correct?
A: Correct
Q2 The tall free standing signal has a round face with 7 lights, 1 in the middle and 3 in the lower left quadrant and 3 in the upper right quadrant. The signal reads S24. Does this mean this is Signal number 24? How were the signals numbered?
A: "S" signifies Montauk Branch (South Side, Southern RR). "24" indicates 2.4 miles east of LIC, approximate within about a fifth of a mile. Eastbound automatic signals since 1928 have had even numbers in agreement with PRR practice. Before that they had odd nos., LIRR practice.
Q3 below S24, which is black background and white letters, is a round circle painted yellow with a G in the middle. 
A: "G" for "Grade signal". Used by the LIRR only on Eastbound signals on Mount Olivet.  A freight with a heavy train did not have to make a full stop at a "Stop and Proceed" signal.  
Q4 What does the "G" represent?  
Q5 Would the yellow circle with black lettered G be accurate for the early 1960s? 
A: I believe so.
Q6 Would this signal be accurate for a layout depicting the early 1960s? 
A: Only between Haberman and POND.
Q7 What color would this signal be painted? Black? 
A: Mast usually aluminum paint,  back of head black,  face flat black.
You're welcome,  Art Huneke
Sanding House and Tower Questions HELP!

The 2002 Long Island Rail Road Calendar has as its March 2002 photo a George J. Abere, Jr. shot of the West end of Yard A as it appeared in 1954. Featured is a sand house and sanding tower. The Sand Tower can probably be replicated with IHC's 348-5005 Sand Tower List Price $7.98. The sand house must be scratchbuilt to fit into my layout.


  • Can anyone tell me how this sand house operated in the early 1960s? I presume sand was delivered by covered hopper
  • Was the top open?
  • the building appears to have three parts (two flat or sloped wings and a peaked center section appears to have one gray door
  • building appears painted white
  • poured concrete or cinder block construction Does anyone know?
  • one smoke stack on western-most wing
  • a red box on a yellow pole is to the east
  • much sand on the south side of the building
  • possibly a window or other opening on eastern-most wing facing away from Northern Boulevard
  • Thanks
Do you think the LIRR used a covered hopper in 1963 the year I model?

Sent: Thursday, May 08, 2003 5:17 PM
A sand house is usually a small building located nearby the coal tower or fueling stand, depending on the era.  Inside the house, there is equipment to dry sand (heaters, blowers) so it can be used by locomotives for traction.  There is also usually a compressor and an air pump, described below.
After drying the sand it is usually pumped up to a steel holding tank(s) suspended in the air nearby, using compressed air.  from there, it is fed by gravity down flexible pipes or hoses to the sand dome on a steam locomotive, or sand bunkers in Diesels.  The fireman has a valve he turns to control the flow of the sand down the pipe.  It's important that they have dry sand to use, wet sand can cake up and block the piping in the locomotive.  It's also important to filter out impurities like rocks or other objects that could clog the piping.
The sand house may have a pen adjacent to it where fresh, wet sand is unloaded / stored before it is fed into the sand house for drying.  It is usually brought in via gondola and shoveled into the pen, or unloaded with a small jib crane or the like.
In modern times, sand may arrive pre-dried in a covered hopper from a commercial source, and a hose is simply fed into it from the sand house, and the sand is pumped directly to the holding tank from the covered hopper.  It this case the only machinery in the sand house is the compressor and air pump.
Craig Bisgeier, Clifton, NJ

Lumber Shipments in the early 1960s
Nick --

Q1 Any idea about roof walks on box cars?
I recall railroads started phasing out roof walks in mid-1960s.
Q2 Does that mean that most boxcars had roof walks in Sept 1963, the era I model?

About 1966 the ICC eliminated required roofwalks on boxcars but they didn't fully phase out until at least the mid 70's.  You're safe keeping 'em in '63.

 Operations SIG
Form 19s on the LIRR

I really don't believe that Yard A was ever considered to be part of any
branch. I heard rumors long ago that the main line once ran right through
the yard. [These are not rumors, they are true - NK] True or false, it is
Long Island City area and as such is terminal zone  and not a branch.

Putting aside operating rules, and hoping not to belabor the point, which
branch of the LIRR was Yard A considered to be a part of ? JJ

The Montauk Branch, which was/is considered main track ends at Bliss. The Montauk cutoff is a secondry track which is now controlled by JAY, just as C secondary to LIC is.

Movement on these tracks requires(1995) an S card, copied from JAY (or BLISS if open)
The leads to the floats were yard track and a part of the North Shore Yard complex which included Yard A.

No main line rules applied in this area. Only implied rules as put down by the yardmaster. NK