Nail Notes--April & June 2001

Subject: Nail Notes 4-19-01
Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2001 10:48:03 -0600
From: Jeff Oaks <>
Organization: University of Indianapolis

Dear nailers,
     Finally I found some time to get this issue out!  In March the
latest Nailer News came out, and the Shelbyville, KY show was held.
Below you will find reports on them, along with a lot of other
interesting items.

As I announced in the last Nail Notes, I have established a membership
list for traders.  If you would like to have direct access to the e-mail
addresses of other collectors for trading, buying, selling, or just
sharing information, this list is for you.  The list is only available
to members, so you won't get any junk mail if you are included.  Here is
a sample (made up) entry:

Bert Smith <> Colorado Phone: 1-323-456-5734
     I have lots of bullseye 4's and 4R's to trade.  I'm looking for
common S. Cal. Edison pole nails.  My motto is "a nail for a nail!"

You can put in whatever info you want.  Send me a note and I'll include you.

The Shelbyville show held in March was a success!  At least 27 people
showed up, and only three of them were Texans!  (This is no joke about
nailers who live in Texas---it shows that folks in the rest of the
country will attend shows, too!)

I was there Friday, and I got to meet a number of you whom I only knew
as e-mail addresses.

I was elected to give a brief lesson on date nails to a group of kids
from a nearby day care.  They pilfered Don Blake's table, each taking a
nail or two.  Yes, Don gave them permission!  Otherwise *I* would have
had to shell out the 5 cents each for those nails.  One girl came back
twice and bought about 40 more nails from Don!

The centerpiece of the show was Don's impressive display.  He reproduced
with real nails each page of the 1976 book _Date Nails Complete_.  For a
photo of half of it, go here:

Details on the upcoming July show in Perry, IA are now on my web page:
The latest Nailer News---Winter 2001---came out in March.  Here is a
summary of the articles:

John Iacovino has a piece on the New York Central & Big Four Route.  He
asks the same question I did in my May-June 1997 article "Who Used These
Nails?"  I am pretty comfortable with my NYC  listing, but there may be
some Big Four nails not listed in my book which are identical to NYC.

Wayne Gregory reports some odd finds on the Delaware & Hudson.  These
include some rare, old nails:  rnd I (01) 04 and 5, as well as some
nails from the 20's up which appear to be from second hand ties.  There
is a possibility that the 04 and 5 belong to the set, since the rnd I
(01) 07 is known to belong.

I scrambled together a collection of short pieces from previous Nail
Notes.  The only thing new is a copy of a letter from the Maine Central
explaining their use of nails.

George Oliva has an article on the New Jersey Navy nails.  He includes
some history along with pictures.

Al Nielsen <> has sent me photos of nails he has
found on the Salt Lake Route.  Some of you will remember the article I
wrote on the Unoin Pacific / Oregon Short Line / Salt Lake Route in the
Winter 2000 Nailer News.  In it I explain that because nailers have not
distinguished between these three lines when pulling nails, it is
difficult to tell which nails belong to which railroads.

Al wrote "I am sending the pictures of the Salt Lake Route nails that I
have found personally.  The picture of the nail shank is that of a RI
(07) 12. Note that the anchor marks extend down the shank almost to the
point.  In The picture with the SI 11, rusted center nail and the RR23,
on further examination the center nail turned out to be a RR (18) 2" 24.
 The SI (07) 11 could be a factory error with the missing flag on the
second number.  I think I sent you one of the RR (07) 2" 23b's.  In the
group picture, the first RI (18) 5 has a 2" shank.  The first and fourth
SI (18) 13 are very similar and could be the same style.  I have found
four distinct number styles for this year.  I couldn't find my fourth
one and substitued another that was fairly close.  The last 8 penny nail
in this group is a RR (18) 21 and is hard to see in the photo.  These
nails were all found on the Salt Lake Route branch line that left the
main line at Lehi Junction and traveled west and south to where it met
the main line coming from Tooele Valley at Eureka.  I have found no
other years or types in this area.  These are all bonafide Salt Lake
Route nails."

Note the following:
     (1) The (18B) 6 is not pictured in my book (Volume III, p. 48).
     (2) The (18A) 08 is not listed for SLR (Volume II, p. 285).
     (3) The (07) 08 looks like 08:c (3rd 08) pictured on page 20 of
Volume III.
     (4) The 2 1/2 x 1/4 rnd I stl (07) 21 is not listed under SLR
(Volume II, p. 285).
     (5) The 8 penny (18B) 21 is not lised for UP, OSL, or SLR in my book!

Al has this to say about the 21's:  "Being as 1921 was the transition
year from the Salt Lake Route to the Union Pacific, I don't know for
sure that the 21's should be included in the Salt Lake Route set.  I
included them in the picture just in case.  I found the rnd I (07) 21 in
my back yard in Cedar Fort with other numerous SLR nails and railroad
artifacts and pulled the 8 penny (18B) 21 in Leamington, Utah from a tie
in a corral."

On the 8 penny 21 he writes "it is 2 1/4" long (with the very tip rusted
away) with 6 anchors and gripper marks.  I have seen other 21's pulled
by people who have hunted this line.  This is my 3rd that I have had in
my possession.  The other 2 have shanks that were rusted to stubs."

Jim Sinsley <> sent me a copy of the article
"Milliken's Improved Galvanized Date Nails" by Ron Hann.  It appeared in
the February 1977 issue of New Zealand Antique Bottle Collector.  This
seems to be the source of information on New Zealand nails for Wiswell &
Evans in their 1976 book Date Nails Complete.

Here are some quotes:

"A departmental official in 1903 referred to an advertisement in a trade
magazine relating to the date nails of the company of John Milliken of
Belfast, Ireland.  Subsequent enquiries revealed that the nails cost 2.5
pounds per cwt. (approximately 4,500 nails).  An order was apparently
placed for 100,000 for 1904, just the first of many thousnads to be
imported into New Zealand over the next 23 years."

"Enquiries were made of gangers as to their needs for 1928 and 1929 but
no nails for these years appear to have arrived.  Also in 1939 and 1940
it was considered desirable to re-introduce the use of nails, but
nothing appears to have come of the proposal, possibly because of
wartime conditions.

"The continuity of use from 1904-27 is subject to some discussion when
1918 is being considered.  Departmental records definitely state that
there were no nails used in 1918 and, originally, 1919, but apparently
some 19's became available later as 40,000 are shown as arriving on the
"Remuera" ex London.  In the same shipment were 60,000 for 1920."

"To overcome the lack of 18's and 19's, the following provisions were
made:  to indicate 1918 two nails were to be used with their heads
touching, while for 1919 two were to be used also, but one head diameter apart."

And here is an amusing quote:  "I actually once picked up a date nail
(No. 7) in a tyre on my car in a suburban street.  How it got there is
anyone's guess."  Perhaps his friends were tired of all this nail talk
and decided to put a nail to good use!

Rolland Meyers <> has some questions to ask:

I received a couple of SWP 2 x 1/4 rnd R (19) nails the other day.  No
date, just SWP.  I know  they are Southern Wood Piedmont, but was
wondering if they are railroad nails or are these (without date) a pole nail??

Here are three nails I got in swaps etc., over the last year or so and
remain unidentified.

1:   2 1/2 x 3/16 rnd R     gm stl (18B) 28
2:   2 1/2 x 1/5 or 7/40 rnd R stl (18B) 32 (the line of anchors on both
sides starts a little bit lower than those of the nail above but are
continuous down both sides with no breaks)
3:   1 1/2 x 1/4 rnd I         stl (07)  49 (this nail has the date
style of the 49:b 2 1/2 x 1/4 rnd I)
Jim Sinsley <> has some odd nails.  Here are photos
of an unknown round raised "S":

Can anyone out there identify it?

I received a letter in March from Paula Annis in Harlem, MT.  She has
been pulling Great Northern nails, but has trouble finding dates in the
1930's.  Are these scarce?

Charles Sebesta want to know who pulled the bar 09 on St. Francois
County.  Is it Bill Bunch?  I have it listed on page 282 of Volume II as
having a wide upright triangle under the date, and Charles says it is a bar.

More on Santa Fe tags from Charles & Cathlene Young <>

Here are the tags they have found so far:

CRG     HMZ     OZA     SCK    ZMA
CRK                   OZD                 ZMB
CRM     MB       OZE     SRJ      ZMD
CRO     MH       OZF     SRM    ZMG
CRP      ML       OZI      SRU     ZMJ
CRR     MM      OZJ      SRY     ZMP
                           OZL                 ZMR
CZA                   OZO    SZA
CZE                   OZP     SZJ
CZH                  OZR     SZK
CZI                    OZS     SZO
CZJ                    OZW
CZP                   OZY

They have some extras, so if you are intresed in some, write them a
note.  The tags are copper, 1 3/4" square, and the information is
stamped at a 45 degree angle so the tag has a diamond shape.  For more
info on them, see Volume II, 303-4 of my book.

A new U. S. Government set:  Scotia, NY

In March, Bill Lindsay <> put up for bids on eBay
"UNITED STATES RAILROAD DATE NAILS SET" (item #1126873504).  After
writing to him, I can list the nails he pulled at the government track
in Scotia, NY (near Schenectady):

2 1/2 x 1/4 rnd I       stl (06) 52
2 1/2 x 1/4 rnd I       stl (07) 55
2 1/2 x 1/4 sqr I       stl (05) 57,58
2 1/2 x 1/4 rnd R     stl (06) 68

These seem to be similar to the nails used in the New Jersey Navy line.
Both the 58 and 68 were also found in Navy track.

Bill asked "Do you have any early Rock Island nails for trade or sell?"
I don't, but maybe someone out there does.  Bill was an active member of
the TDNCA until the mid-80's, and he is now selling off most of his
nails.  His address is:

Bill Lindsay, 307 Burnside, Muscatine, Iowa 52761  Phone 1-563-264-3894.

Larry Fister <> is the only one to respond to Jim
Sinsley's question on which LTT nails (Volume III, p. 109) have ring
shanks.  He wrote:

LTT 4                 RING SHANK
LTT 6                 RING SHANK
LTT 7                 REGULAR SHANK
LTT 9                 RING SHANK
LTT 10               REGULAR SHANK

James and Kay Holvey <> are looking for Santa Fe date
nails 1,2,3,4.5,12.13,14,15.

If I have forgotten something, don't hesitate to remind me!

Jeff Oaks, Associate Professor
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
University of Indianapolis
1400 E. Hanna Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46227

Subject: Nail Notes 6-6-01
Date: Wed, 06 Jun 2001 11:20:28 -0600
From: Jeff Oaks <>
Organization: University of Indianapolis

Hi nailers,
     Here are some of the items which have accumulated on my desk since
the last Nail Notes.  I still need some more info on other nail stories
before I can include them, so you might receive another issue soon.

Chris John <> has put photos of his date nails
collection on his web site:

Mark Gilles <> & Rolland Meyers
<> have detected another error in my book:
Under Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range, page 162 of Volume I, the (47) 45:b
should be 45:a.  The line should now read:

2 1/2 x 1/4  rnd R    stl (47) 41,44,44:b,44:c,45

Joe Lewis <>, author of the 1975 book Date Nails Brought
Up to Date, is living in the Netherlands right now, and he sent me this
note with a picture of some nails:

"Here is a shot of my Dutch (Netherlands) nails from the ties in my back
yard.  A numbering system of some sort, this tie was #5-3-5.  This area
was a very heavy industrial & coalmining region up until about 1965.
Beginning when the mines closed down in the 60s, then continuing to now,
many of the rail lines, rail yards and sidings were pulled up.  The ties
are used extensively around here for fence posts, yard borders, etc."

The photo can be viewed here:

This style nail is common in Thailand (04-09:  2504 = Buddhist year for
our 1961), Italy (67-79),  and they are found in other European
countries as well.  Judging by the age of other similar nails, I would
guess that Joe's code nails date from the 60's or 70's.

Havis McDonald has been kind enough to *give* me his 1949 AWPA
Proceedings (AWPA = American Wood Preservers Association).  This is the
only post-1909 volume I had no access to---the libraries in which I did
my research were missing it.  It comes in two fascicles (go look that
word up!), and in the second is a great article on tie treating on the
Missouri Pacific.  It turns out that my guess as to the treatment MoPac
used beginning ca. 1907/08 was wrong.  I'll write up the whole story for
the next Nailer News.

Yet more on Santa Fe tags

I wrote in the upcoming Nailer News that perhaps the HMZ reported by
Charles & Cathlene Young might be a ZMH:  I thought that perhaps they
read the tag wrong and upside down, since the prefix ZM is common and HM
is otherwise unknown.  They got back to me and verified that the tag
does read HMZ.

They also wrote "we did dig a i.d. (c1930)  brass oval badge that was
attached to a ????,   it says CHAS CLUTHE  &  SON.--BLOOMFIELD.  NEW
JERSEY."  Does anyone know what that is?  You can contact Charles &
Cathleen at
Wes Hodges <> acquired a round indent (07) 25 with TCGB
stamped on the shank.  Does anyone know who might have stamped nails
like this?  I doubt it was the TC&GB railroad, though it does look like
a professional job.

Jeff Oaks, Associate Professor
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
University of Indianapolis
1400 E. Hanna Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46227

Subject: Nail Notes 6-26-01
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 09:18:07 -0600
From: Jeff Oaks <>
Organization: University of Indianapolis
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Dear nailers,
     If you have items to send me, or if you wonder why I haven't
responded to your last note, write me before July 2.  That day I'm
flying with my family to Italy for five weeks, and I'm not sure I will
have an opportunity to check e-mail.  We are going to visit my wife's
family, but I might get some more Italian nails too.  One of our friends
there, Giampiero Sabatini, works for the railroad and he gets me date
nails occasionally.
     In my neverending crusade to maintain the stereotype of the
absent-minded professor, I forgot last time to select "Bcc" when sending
Nail Notes, which is why you had to wade through that long list of
e-mail addresses before getting to the Notes.

Want / trade / sell lists.

You all received Jim Sinsley's June 9 want list through e-mail.  This
gave me an idea:  I could put a link to want-trade-sell lists for
whoever wants to make them public.  Just e-mail me your list and I'll
put it in a file and add a link.  Then anyone visiting my website will
have access to it.  By the way, as of right now the site has racked up
1,646 hits since I instaled the counter April 2.  It has been getting 19
visits a day lately.

Send your list in a text file.  If you don't know how to do that, just
mail me the list in whatever format suits you, and I probably have a way
of opening it and saving it as text.  If you are an html whiz, that will
work too.

The latest Nailer News

I got this a week or so ago.  In the current Spring(!) issue:

Looking at a Few Odditis by Charles Sebesta             Page 1
>From the Editor's Desk by Charles Sebesta                       2-3
Newspaper article on the Shelbyville, KY show                   4
Success in Shelbyville by Bruce Gordon                            5
     Photos from the show                                                    6
Nail Notes (you got these in e-mail) by Jeff Oaks              7-9
The Flagler System (Florida East Coast) by Tom Meyer         10-11
Death Valley, Scotty's Castle and Tie Canyon by George Oliva 12-13
Coming Full Circle by Charles Sebesta                            14-15
New Members, ads, etc.                                                    16-20

The big news is Tom Meyer's article on the Florida East Coast.  It turns
out they began dating ties in 1924, placing ordinary nails in specific
locations in the tie to indicate the year.  They used regular date nails
in 24 and 39 as well as the previously known 58-62.  I'll add something
to the errata later on this.

The 2001 nail spotted (and photographed!) by Geotge Oliva on the US Navy
track is an aluminum nail normally found in fenceposts!  It is marked
BPB over 01.  I haven't had the time to dig through my old copies of
Nailer News to find Dave Parmalee's piece on fencepost nails, but the
meaning of BPB is given there.  It stands for some company.

Jim Yarem <> has been pulling nails in northeast
Pennsylvania lately.  He has made some finds on the Lackawanna & Wyoming
Valley and the West Pittston & Exeter.  We still haven't established a
definitive list of what he got.  That will come in August!

Bob Bahrs <> needs these Lackawanna nails:

2 1/2 x 1/4  rnd R   mi (11) 11b, 29b, 30b
2 1/2 x 1/4  rnd I   mi (11) 13
2 1/2 x 1/4  rnd R  stl (07) 44b, 58

His address is 807 Park Rd Morris Plains, NJ 07950.  Phone 973-829-0040.

I have been really busy, so I may have missed an item or two.  If you
are waiting for my response on something, remind me soon, or your query
might sink forever into the archaeological strata which form on my desk
of old papers.

Happy nailing!

Jeff Oaks, Associate Professor
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
University of Indianapolis
1400 E. Hanna Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46227

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