Nail Notes--February & May 2002

Subject: Nail Notes
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2002 11:14:35 -0600
From: Jeff Oaks <>
Organization: University of Indianapolis
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

I have a few items to report.  The three big stories are here:

Canadian nails

Terry Hill of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario wrote me recently regarding
nails on the Algoma Central & Hudson Bay.  Here are his points:

--In my book I list an 82 for AC&HB.  Terry confirms what I had heard
from other collectors:  the AC&HB used nails through 1979, and 80's were
purchased, but never used.  The Ontario Northland, which used the 82,
shares a station with the AC&HB.  This is how confusion about an AC&HB
82 was begun.
--Terry has found two (37) 61's.  But these have small heads, and
judging by his rubbing, they seem to have the same smaller shanks (1/5")
as the (37) 58-60.  This is a new find!
--He was told that the AC&HB also used the 1 1/2" aluminum oval shank
50, shown on page 73 of Volume III of my book.  This nail, as well as
others in the series, are common in poles in Canada.  We need to find
out if Terry's 50 came from a pole or a tie.  I suspect the former.

Lastly, Terry makes the observation that the (38) nails were probably
made by The Steel Company of Canada, Ltd.  This firm, you will recall,
made the (37) nails.  Buz Johnston found a box which originally
contained some (37) nails with the company name printed on it.  Note
that the last year for (38) is 1957, while the first year for (37) is
1959.  Both types are found almst exclusively in Canada.  It only makes
sense that they were made by the same company!

A new find

Rolland Meyers recently traded for three nails from "an old fellow up in
North Dakota."  They are:

2 1/2 x 1/4  rnd I    stl (18B) 13

This is a new find!  We have no idea what railroad (or utility comapny?)
used the nails.

Click here for a photo

Early, unused Illinois Central nails

Some of you know that Dave Parmalee bought an unused Illinois Central
cross 19 awhile back.  It is one of three known.  Now Ray Canole in
Hasings, MI <> has acquired some unused
Illinois Central 11's and 13's from a man in Illinois.  He got three
11's (page 71 of Volume III), and five diamond 13's (page 30).  The 11's
are particularly scarce.  Larry Harvey found one in a tie, Clyde Walker
found three or four of them.  I know of no others.

Interestingly, this odd 11 is identical to the 11 used by the Baltimore
& Ohio in test sections.  Bill Bunch pulled some in Ohio, and he also
got some unused B&O 11's, among others, which came from a man in
Washington Courthouse, OH (near the test section).  It is remarkable
that we have these nails unused from two different railroads!

Click here for a photo

Happy nailing,


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

Subject: Nail Notes 5-16-02
Date: Thu, 16 May 2002 16:21:28 -0600
From: Jeff Oaks <>
Organization: University of Indianapolis

Now that the semester has ended I have some time to put together Nail
Notes.  If I get enough new items in the next week or so, I might even
put out another issue this month!  So send me your nail stories, photos, etc.


The newly-discovered (18B) 39

Rolland Meyers has found (18B) 39's on the Southern Pacific (Western
Lines).  Specifically, the nail is:

2 1/2 x 3/16  rnd R gm   stl (18B) 39

It is identical to the (18C) 39, but lacks that vertical stroke through
the anchors.  Now some of you are wondering "How can this nail be?  The
last year for (18B) was 1936!"  I think, and Rolland concurs, that the
(18B) 39's were made at the (18C) factory, but somehow someone forgot to
mark the shank for (18C).  In short, it is an error.

Nonetheless it is a common error:  Rolland and others have already found
dozens in the track and in their collections, and you had better examine
YOUR SP 39's to see if you have some, too.

The Nailer News came out a few weeks ago

Here is the table of contents for Vol 32 No. 1 Winter 2002:
1             "Another new find---Rolland Meyers snares three round indent, type (18B) 13's" by Charles Sebesta (this was announced earler in Nail Notes)
2-3         "More on the Type (12) Date Nails" by Rolland Meyers
4             "News From and About Our Shows"
5-7          "From the Editor's Desk"
8-10        "Another Chanute Letter" by Jeff Oaks
11           "Checking Out a Few Shanks" by Leon Sorenson
12-13      "Nail Notes" by Jeff Oaks
14-15       Reproductions of manufacturers' ads for date nails, and a list of pole nails used by Ohio Telephone Company/General Telephone of Ohio, by Jerry Penry
16-17        Membership info
17            "The *Fake* Santa Fe square indent ZM" by Jeff Oaks
18-20        ads

To receive the Nailer News, you need to join the Texas Date Nail
Collectors' Association:

Spikes, Ties and Rails just arrived in the mail

ST&R is the publication of the North American Railroad Maintenance of
Way Association.  Issue 18 (Winter-Spring 2002) contains:

1,5       "Push cars" by John LaRue, Jr.
1,4,6,7 "Half and Half Again" by John LaRue, Jr.
2         "From the King Snipes Shack" by Walt Hayward, president
3         "Book Review" by John LaRue, Jr. (of the book Railway Maintenance:  The Men and Machines that Keep the Railroad Running)
3         "From the Editor" by Douglas W. Groff

ST&R has 8 pages and is printed on quality glossy paper in b&w.  Photos
are very clear.  To subscribe, join the NARRMOWA.  Dues are $10.00 per
year (four issues):

Robin Warren <> on the Santa Fe

Robin sent me this May 2 with the pic:
    "This is the Pineland, Tx. pile. Pineland is on Tex. Farm to Market
01 just off US 96 in Sabine County. Last Sunday I was headed back to
Pineland and took another back road, found another pile. This second
pile is on Texas 103 at the county line between San Augustine and Sabine
counties. It is just as large as the Pineland pile.
    "In Pineland, I pulled 50 diff. nails. Lots of 20's, few 30's/40's
and the rest 50's. No pents and no letters with only 5 indented. This
again is only one side of it. In the Tx 103 pile (no landmark nearby
other that county line marker and tracks) the same mixture of yrs and
styles. I did pull one "X" but it is from a tie stamped "ZS 68" on the
end. I figured this tie was treated in '68, the "X" driven by the
treatment plant and the tie installed after '69.

Screw spikes on the Northern Pacific

Roger Beckett <> has found screw spikes in
Northern Pacific track at Homestake, MT (near Butte).  For those of you
who do not know what a screw spike is, I have scanned a page from James
M. Joyce's 1985 book _Railroad Spikes:  A Collector's Guide_:

The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western is the only North American to use
screw spikes regulary, 1910 - ca. 1930, and many can still be found
there.  On other American railroads, screw spikes were used in test
sections, and in special locations where cut spikes would fail.  The
latter is the reason they were used on the NP at Homestake:  Dick
Carlson of the NP wrote to Roger "The screw spikes were used to help
keep the gauge, especially on the tight 12 degree curves."  Roger noted
that the rail and the tie plates are marked 1955.

When in Italy I noted that there were two types of screw spikes:  (a)
those with large heads which were used to secure the rail to teh tie,
and (b) those with smaller heads which were used only to attach the tie
plate to the tie (clips held the rail to the plate in this case).
Intrerestingly, the top, square part of the heads were different:  (a)
had square heads, and (b) had rectangular heads.

Now look at a photo of the NP spikes:

You can see that the spikes are only holding the plates to the tie.
Regular cut spikes hold down the rail.  The heads of these spikes are
rectangular, as opposed to the square heads of the DL&W spikes, which
also held the rail.  So the same difference in head shape applies to
NP/DL&W as it does in Italy.

Lastly, the NP spikes are longer, with fat springs under the head (like
lock washers).  I suppose these were used to make sure the spike held
the plate tightly, even if it rose up a little with wear.

Lastly, Roger writes:  "I think it would be a good idea to note that
while this rail line is long unused it is not officially abandoned and
unlike date nails the screws are a integral part of the track structure."

The Next Nail Show

The Texas Date Nail Collectors' Association summer show will be held
July 19-20, 2002 at the Johnson County Fairgrounds in Buffalo, Wyoming.

Fri., July 19:  8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Sat., July 20:  8:00 AM to 12:00 noon

Free admission; cost per table $25.00.
Show host:  Larry & Jean Ostermeyer, 1436 N. Gould, Sheridan, WY 82801
1-307-673-7568; e-mail

The Spring Show in 2003 will be held on the EAST COAST!  This is the
first time in over 30 years of hosting shows that the TDNCA has ventured
east of Kentucky!  The show will be hosted by Allen Stanley somewhere in
North Carolina.

Phone number correction

Jean Ostermyer <> wrote to me recently:  "I am
hoping you can help me. I just opened our Nailer News and was looking at
the back page with the flier for our show and saw that they have the
wrong phone number for us. I know that you send out your notes after you
receive the Nailer and would ask you to include our correct phone number
which is 1-307-673-7568.
 Thanks very much.
  Jean Ostermyer"

E-mail address change

Steve McCue <> wrote:  "Jeff - I have forgotten 2 years
in a row now - to change my email addy in the annual club directory. Can
you notify the person who will put next year's book together to change
my email address ?  It should read, Thanks, Steve Mc Cue.

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

Nail Notes 5-30-02
Thu, 30 May 2002 09:43:24 -0600

So I have menaged to get two Nail Notes out in one month!  Keep sending material in, and I might make this a monthly newsletter again (This is the third Nail Notes this year).

Great Northern stamps

Charles Johnson <> has sent me some remarkable photos of three Great Northern triangular ties with the date (1902, 1903) stamped in the upper face.  Here is his note:

Jeff, Thought you might be interested in these photos.  These triangle ties were recovered off the St Paul Minneapolis & Manitoba (Great Northern) on 4-21-02 15 miles west of Marion MT, which is located 20 miles west of Kalispell MT.  This railroad grade was only used for a few years in the late 1800s & early 1900s.  Great Northern found that it was too expensive to maintain the massive amount of trestles and the extreme terrain which this road ran through.  A new grade was constructed shortly after completion of this one to the north of Whitefish MT to connect the westward line.  These ties were manufactured in the Somers MT plant of O'Brien Lumber, which was the predecessor of the Somers Lumber Co. which was owned by Great Northern.  These ties were found over a steep embankment alongside the grade west of Marion.
Thank you, Charles & Cheryl Johnson.  Kila MT

A 1902 tie:

A 1903? tie:

Another 1902 tie:

The same 1902 tie:

Agan, the same 1902 tie:

An end view of the same tie.  Note the stamp "2":

Ties on  the embankment:

The road which occupies the railroad grade:

Slosser's Santa Fe article

Jeff Slosser <> sent me a copy of the article "The Treatment of Timber on the Santa Fe:  Proper Handling after Treatment Affords Means of Practical Economy" by R. S. Belcher.  It appeared in the February 1927 issue of The Santa Fe Magazine.

After discussing the timber situation in general, and reviewing decay and methods of timber preservation, Belcher recounts the now familiar story of the Santa Fe's history with tie preservation.  Each time I find an article like this one, there are some statements which stick out, and this one is no exception.  If you have read my book, you know that the Santa Fe was the first railroad to build a permanent tie treating plant, at Las Vegas, NM in 1885.  I also noted (p. 288, vol II) that they first treated bridge timbers for use in a bridge over Galvston Bay in 1875.  Belcher adds to this (p. 24):  "...the first treated timber to be used on the Santa Fe was used on the Gulf lines.  Mr. Trundy built a treating plant at the west end of the shops in Galveston during the early part of 1875, at which plant was treated the piling used in the construction of the trestle across Galveston Bay."  Presumably this plant was used only for treating timbers in that one bridge.  The Louisville & Nashville's 1876 plant at West Pascagoula was the first permanent RR treating plant in N. America (for creosoting bridge piles).

On page 25 is this:  "In 1906, 24,000 hewn Texas pine ties, treated with approximately 4 1/2 pounds of creosote per cubic foot by the rueping process, were laid in track between Ottawa and Emporia near Melvern, Kan.  These ties were not put in as test ties, but after they had been in two or three years it was decided to apply dating nails and keep a record of the number of ties of this lot renewed each year."

If this were true, it would be the first instance I know of a railroad putting date nails in ties some years *after* being put in the track! But I think Belcher is wrong.  In 1906 the Santa Fe was driving date nails into all its treated ties, so these ties would have been dated already.  More reliable is the info I found on this test from other sources:  24,238 creosoted ties were laid, and the stretch of track only became a test section in 1914 (*eight* years later, not two or three!) when they put in new rail and noted that not one of the ties had been removed. (See my book, vol II, p. 298.)

His other reports of test sections are close enough to my records.  There is one, though, which I did not list:  "There is another piece of track which has not been considered as test track but which a study of tie renewalsfrom the time the track was built to the present time shows very encouraging results; and that is the 84 miles of main track between Coleman and Sweetwater.  This track was built in 1909 and 1910, creosoted pine ties from the Somerville plant being used.  Out of approximately 260,000 ties in this line, exclusive of side track, 61,718 or 23.3 percent have been removed during the sixteen years of service." (p. 25)

So now you know where to look for 1909 and 1910 nails---if other nailers haven't taken every last one!

A note on the (18B) 39's

Rolland Meyers <> wrote me:  "the 1939 (18B)'s are not that common!!"  So far about 35 have been identified by Rolland.  It is difficult to put a ratio for (18B) to (18C) 39's, but it seems that maybe 10% or so are (18B).

Also, I wrote that the (18B) 39 is probably an error.  After thinking about it, I realise that there is another possibility:  The plant which made the (18B) nails might have continued operations past 1936, making common nails and not date nails.  In 1939 they again took up an order. And Don Blake had a third theory as well.  What this shows is that we really have no idea why this post-1936 (19B) has shown up.

New utility pole find

John Iacovino <> has found two of these previously unreported 42's:

1 1/2 x 1/4  rnd R     stl (25) 42

"Numerals identical to those illustrated on the  other 1942 nail.  Both on utility poles.  One in Rome, NY on an unmarked pole along the NYC. The other in Cortland, NY on a Syracuse Lighting Company pole."

Terry Santola <> has been finding nails:

Hello its been a while since I wrote, have been busy working for Union Pacific. I was sent out to Gila Bend Arizona this last week. I got do do some nail hunting and came across some burn piles.  My wife found a 07, I found a round 11 about 2" long.  She also found 8 penny raised 17, 18, 19, 21.  These nails were found west of Gila Bend on the main line.  We then went east of Gila Bend where we found some more 8 penny nails, 15, 19, 24.  Also found type (07) 39 and  two 36's.  Next time I will take my metal detector and really get into the burn piles.  The nails we found were right on top of the ground, Should be a lot more there.

PS:  If any of them have questions or need info, have them call me, or write me if they don't have a computer.  I suspect there are lots of nails there to be found with a metal detector. It seems all the old nails are going to be found in burn piles along the rights of way. I will keep you informed.  It seems all the railroads seem to work in this way.  I found UP, Santa Fe and now SP in burn piles along the right of way.

John Fallowfield <> has for trade a few nails ranging from diamond 7 to round R 68.  His list is available here:

I have posted other trade lists, too.  To view, them, go here:

I'll post your ad for free if you send it to me!


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