Nail Notes--February, 2000

Subject:  Nail Notes -- 2-28-00
Date:  Mon, 28 Feb 2000 12:03:17 -0600
From:  Jeff Oaks <>
Organization: University of Indianapolis

Finally I get to produce another issue of Nail Notes.  I am swamped with work these weeks, so I am a little behind with nails.  There are now 225 subscribers to this list.

The Winter 2000 Nailer News has arrived...

     Here is a brief summary of its contents:
**Pages 1-2 Charles Sebesta's editorial on collecting “Just Thinking Out Loud”.
**Pages 3-5 Small news items and ads.
**Pages 6-11 My comprehensive article on the Union Pacific---everything known about UP tie treating dating is there.  I discuss in particular the two items of confursion for UP: when they first used date nails, and the relationship between the sets of the UP, OSL and Salt Lake Route.
**Pages 12-13 Bob Thorpe's article on various controversial nails he has pulled.
**Pages 14-19 My article “Sundries” which consists of Nail Notes from January, plus a couple items in this note.
**Pages 20-21 Jeff Slosser's “Memorable Nail Hunts on the Santa Fe--No. 2:  Texas”.
**Pages 22-24 More ads and announcements.  We have 10 new members this quarter.

To get the Nailer News, you need to join the Texas Date Nail Collectors’ Association.  Go to my web page for instructions:

Charles wrote on page 5 of the Nailer News:  “Did the AT&SF or Santa Fe, as we know it, ever use a round raised 22 with a 1/8 inch shank?  The thinking here is, no.  This is a Southern Pacific date nail.”  Charles goes on to say that the 1/8" 22 in the Santa Fe list in my book probably originated on the SP.

Chares doubts this nail for wo reasons:  (1) He cannot remember anyone who has pulled the nail, and (2) it just does not fit the Santa Fe.  The SFe always used 1/4" shank nails, and they used nails with indented figures to 1926, when they began using raised nails.  A raised, 1/8" 22 makes no sense.

This 22 is explained on pages 293 and 304 of Volume II of my book.  In the March-April 1985 Nailer News Mel Smith wrote an article about some Santa Fe ties he found in California which are from their special test sections. These ties had the copper tags of the Santa Fe.  The tags read “OZB” and “ZMB” (one per tie), and they had the OZ or ZM date nail accordingly.  Santa Fe 21's held the tags to the ties, while the 1/8" round raised 22's dated the ties.  There is absolutely no question that these are Santa Fe ties.

There is a precedent for “non-Santa Fe” nails in Santa Fe ties.  Recall the round raised 19's found between Chilocco, OK and Arkansas City, KS.  I described this test in the November-December 1997 Nailer News, pages 12-14 (with an addition in the Novmeber-December 1998 issue, pages 9-10).  No one doubts this 19, even though it has raised nunbers!  The railroad was testing screw dowels in this 1919 section, and these 19's have been found nowhere else on the Santa Fe.  So we have two cases of the Santa Fe using out-of-character date nails, and in each case the nail is associated with a special test.

Paul Zeiner has made an addition to his date nail website.  He now has a “Discussion Forum” where people can share their thoughts and their nails.  Some people have posted messages regarding nails for sale or trade.  Check it out at:

I encourage you all to use this forum---it is much more efficient than writing me, and waiting until I get the next issue of “Nail Notes” out!

My web page has been improved in minor ways.  I still need to add errata for my book and to beef up the photo section.  Tom Meyer has sent me pictures of a nail in a tie in service which should further help to dispel the idea some people have that we yank spikes.

The three enclosed photos

(1) Enclosed is a photo of a 01 in Jery Braun's collection.  Note that the "1" has a flag and foot.  The 01 used by the Great Northern has the flag, but no foot.  Jerry's nail is very rare, and we do not know what railroad used it.

[NOTE (2-29-00):  I made a mistake on this one!  It IS a Great Northern nail.  See Nail Notes 2-29-00 below. ---J.]

(2) Bill bunch sent me this photo of two 49's (enclosed).  The nail on the left is from the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee.  Does anyone know what that second nail is?  Is it from the CNS&M?

(3) This copper indent 41, measuring 1 1/4 x 3/16, was recently obtaine from eBay.  I do not know what company made the nail, nor who used it.  It is certainly a pole nail.  Do any of you have any guesses?

The nail show is approaching...

I won't be there---none of my vehicles would make it all the way to Texas!  But if you have an interest in nails, YOU SHOULD attend!

At least three TDNCA members will be there with thousands of nails at 5 cents to a quarter each.  I know from my own experience, and from hearing from other nailers, that there will probably be quite a few RARE nails mixed in with the commons

The show is March 17 (8AM-6PM) and 18 (8AM-1PM), 2000, at the Inn of theHills in Kerrville, TX.  For more info, see my web page ( or contact John Haifly (phone 830-257-4943, e-mail

Railroad myths.

I know two of them which have gained new lives because of e-mail and the internet.  The first is that our standard gauge 4' 8 1/2" derives from the distance between Roman chariot wheels.  This is nonsense, and I'll send you the evidence if you want it.

The other myth is that the demise of streetcars was due to a conspiracy by Genereal Motors and Goodyear to replace rail traffic with busses.  See the artice from _Transportation Quarterly_ at for the history of this story.

A question from Jeff Slosser:  Did the Southern Pacific use both 17 and 17:b?  He has only 17:a listed.  Respond to me or to Jeff at

A mistake in my book.

I wrote in two places that the Santa Fe's first treating plant was at Las Vegas, NV.  That should be Las Vegas, NM.  Somehow I continued to type “NV” instead of “NM”.  The changes should be made at:
       Volume II, p. 288, third line abouve the histogram.
       Volume II, p. 294, under “Treating plants”.

A mistake in the last Nail Notes

I wrote that the “T” shank 24’s pulled by J. R. Kinnard are from the Santa Fe.  They are really from the Southern Pacific.

Treated ties on the Colorado Midland

The CM is one of those railroads which has somehow captured the hearts of many a railroadiana nut.  This is remarkable, since it was abandoned in 1918!  I found a history of the CM on the internet, and one chapter talks of the plated, zinc chloride treated ties installed in 1917.  Prior to this the railroad had used untreated ties with no tie plates.  This raises the question:  Did they use date nails in 1917?  Probably not, I say, but it is interesting to speculate nonetheless.  The site is:

Odd nails on the Southern Pacific

George Olivia writes:  “One of the areas  MOST productive for finding nails that I visit is the Southern Pacific Lines in the Bay Area.  Over the years, I have pulled MANY nails from San Francisco to south of San Jose, mostly on `dormant' lines and unused sidings. I have now identified most of these but have some strange ones that either are not SP nails or are not identifiable at all!

“Here Goes:

2 1/2 x 1/4  rnd  R       stl (17) 35
Matches perfectly per page 43, Vol III, however it was pulled from the SP dormant line that departs the SF-San Jose line just above Menlo Park and crosses the bay to Newark on the Trestle that recently burnt.\medskip

2 1/2 x 1/4  rnd  R       stl (??) 31
The “3” has a flat top, the “1” is just a straight line and head diameter is 5/8 -- I cannot find ANY type match in your book.

2       x 1/4  rnd  R       stl (??) 29
Head diameter 11/16, again cannot find a match.

2       x 1/4  rnd  R       stl (??) 59
Head Diameter 5/8, again cannot find a match.

“All were pulled from the SP as the 35 above and I noted even before getting your book that they did not fit the pattern of what else I was pulling from SP.

“Any help would be greatly appreciated!”

You can contact George at

Subject: Nail Notes 2-29-00
Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 09:06:38 -0600
From: Jeff Oaks <>
Organization: University of Indianapolis

I made a mistake in my posting yesterday.  I had my 01’s confused.  The Great Northern used the 01 with flag and foot---this is Jerry Braun’s nail.  It is not that rare.  Bill Bunch wrote to me yesterday “I have sold this nail for as little as $15.00.”  He added that the shank has the (07) diamond on both sides.  The 01 without the foot, then, is the rare one.  My slip!

Larry Fister has a tip for preventing rust on cleaned nails.  Rolland Meyers uses WD-40, but Larry says “WD 40 is greasy, and if one handles the nails enough, the WD 40 will slowly disappear.”  He uses Krystal Klear Krylon, a transparent paint, instead.  He admits that his product is not all that popular among other nailers.  It is, however, both clear and permanent, and museum curators of the 23rd century will be thanking Larry, because only HIS nails will survive...

Larry Fister also has something to add to the story of the Norfolk & Western 60’s (see the last item on Nail Notes for January).  In his journal he wrote “Some square raised 27, 28, 29, and 30 (07) and Raised 60 from Richard Holmes, Franklin Penn April 1995.  These came from N&W track in West Virginia so the 60 must have been driven in some ties rather than not used at all as according to Parmalee & Daniels in N[ailer] N[ews] articles........Holmes further writes July 1995 that he and his son found several (07) 60’s on a spur track leading to a coal mine near Pulaski, Virginia.”

If the 60’s were found on a spur, they might be from second hand ties, say from the RF&P.  If they are from RF&P ties, the 60’s will have been found driven into the *side* (not the top) of the ties, between the rails.  The RF&P is the only railroad known to have placed nails there.  I don’t know if I’ll have time to write Richard on this.

The biggest nail find of the decade?????

I have been corresponding with a woman named Edith.  In her first note she wrote “My grandfather worked for the Illinois Central RR for 50 years before being forced to retire when the mandatory retirement came into effect.  This man collected nails with numbers on the top that must be what you describe as date nails.  He has several oak boards with holes in them for display which must be for the different rail lines from which he found them.  He has sets with numbers ranging from 97 to 78 with numerous jars full of nails ranging from 00 to 70.”

I receive many notes like this, and every time someone say he or she has nails from 1897 (or 1895 or whatever) I write back to tell them that the oldest known U.S. nail is a 97, and it is unique.

She wrote back:  “Fred (my late husband) was very meticulous about his organization of his nails, and the way they were displayed clearly show a 97.  My grandson counted all the nails this weekend and total to 4033 nails.  Two cigar boxes full of unused 00-01-01 03 nails were also found in the basement.  My grandson is photographing all these nails with a digital camera and will be posting them to view on the internet soon.   Edith.”

So the collection went from Edith’s grandfather to Edith’s late husband Fred.  I don’t know how to interpret her statement “the way they were displayed clearly show a 97”.  Anyway, we’ll see!

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