Nail Notes--January, 2000

I sent out Nail Notes January 5 and 11 so far.

Subject: Nail Notes--1-5-00
Date: Wed, 05 Jan 2000 08:43:08 -0500
From: Jeff & Rossella Oaks <>

As I did in September and November, this month's Nail Notes will consist of a few notes all within a week.

The date nail web site is up!

Bob Schneider wrote me in December that he would set up a web page for
me.  I said fine, and he included lots of info I sent him, along with a
few pictures.  Then I thought "Why haven't I set up my OWN page?".  And
I then did just that.  My illustrated, information-packed page is at

Let me know what you think.  I designed it for the complete beginner as
well as for people who have been nailing for some time.  Bob's page,
which has photos mine doesn't, is at

Here is another nail web page, set up by Paul Zeiner.  He shows some
Southern Pacific nails.

Aaron Smith set up a page on date nails quite a while ago.  The last
time I tried this link I couldn't connect, but maybe you can get

The third printing of my book _Date Nails and Railroad Tie Preservation_
is out!

I made a bunch of minor corections this time.  If you already have the
book, don't splurge for this version.  The changes are too minor to
bother with.

It turns out I received an unwarranted discount on past printings, and I
should realy have paid much more.  We settled on an intermediary price
this time, and I am now charging $25.00 post paid for the three volume set.

The fourth printing will cost even more, unless I switch printers.

So if you have been procrastinating, now is the time to order! Send
$25.00 to:

     Jeff Oaks
     Dept. of Math
     U. of Indianapolis
     1400 E. Hanna Ave.
     Indianapolis, IN 46237

The Spring nail show

The Texas Date Nail Collectors Association is holding its Spring show in
TX.  Here are the details.

March 17-18, 2000

Inn of the Hills
1001 Junction Highway
Kerrville, TX 78028

Exhibitor/Table set up at 5:00 PM, Thursday evening, March 16
Show hours:  Friday, March 17---8 AM to 6 PM
Saturday, March 18---8 AM to 1 PM.

Awards and Door Prizes presented at 12:30 PM Saturday.

Cost per table:  $25.00

Show host:  John Haifley, 1921 Summit Top Dr., Kerrville, TX 78028-3034
(830) 257-4943.  e-mail:

Motels/Hotels:  Inn of the Hills (830) 895-5000 or (800) 292-5690

The TDNCA has sponsored two shows a year since 1971.  I hosted the
Spring 1999 show, and it went really well.

2  x  1/4  sqr R     rs  stl (07) 31

The nail in the attached photo was acquired, with about a dozen others,
by Charles Sebesta.  He does not know what company used them, but the
best bet so far is Great Northern, though I wouldn't put any money on
the attribution.  This is yet another of those orphan nails which
surfaces every once in a while.

In case you can't read the notation, the nail is 2" long, with a square
head and a round shank.

>From Roland Meyers (

still going through the santa fe round set.  or at least what has been
sent to me as being santa fe.  came accross a real dandy here.  it is a
1924 round indent 2 1/2 x 1/4 (18B).

i can't even find a listing in the book for the nail, but it is the
style of two used in the 18B shown for the 26 and 27 on page 48 of vol.
III. it was sent to me by a real old datenail collector from texas.  (no
longer in the texas datenail organization) but know by all the older
members.  name is ed patton.   he is in his eighties and sends me nails
every so often.  he sent this one last year and i did not even notice
that it wasn't listed until just now.  he sent it to me as being santa
fe so i just plugged a hole with it.

>From John DeLalla (

Something you might want to include in your next nail notes email. A
short spur (half mile or so) in east Flagstaff, Ariz. (next to the mall)
has been taken out of service, and is being set to be torn up. Just
about every tie has a nail in it, and if someone wants to get some ATSF
57's, here is the place to do it. If your holiday travels bring you
through Flagstaff, plan on an hour break pulling a few nails. I went
over today and pulled about 12, just to trade around and clean up for
little gifts for those I know born in 1957.

Thanks for your time and help,

Subject: Re: Date nail info
    Date:Sun, 5 Dec 1999 13:39:40 EST


Thanks very much for the info on the date nails.  I am selling, and do
have a
complete date set from 1901 thru 1969.  With many extras from 1903 thru 1918.


ACCEPTING BIDS: for a collection of railroad date nails 1904-1964. For
information please contact Lon Allbritton, Route 1 Box 496, Hockley,
Texas 77447 or phone (409) 931-5632,

Dale Paulshock wants $6.00 ppd for six nails dated 12-41.

2 1/2 x 1/4  rnd I      stl (01) 12
2 1/2 x 1/4  rnd R       mi (11) 15,24,25
2 1/2 x 1/4  rnd I      stl (07) 25
2 1/2 x 1/4  sqr R      stl (07) 41

The 12 and 25 are from the Lehigh & Hudson River, and the rest are
Delaware, Lackawanna & Western.  e-mail:
Ebay item #221500190.

I haven't seen the following book, but it looks promising.  Routledge is
a good publisher.  This was sent to me by the President of the TDNCA,
Bill McClellan.  And no, no one is paying me to put the ad here!


by John F. Stover

Publication Date:  October 1999

ISBN 0415921406 (Paperback)
     0415921341 (Hardcover)

List Price:  $17.95 (Paperback) $60.00 (Hardcover)

Shipping:  $3.00 book rate in the USA.  $10.00
           outside the USA.

With 50 full-color original maps, and a keen and perceptive text, the
preeminent historian of US railways has created an illustrated atlas
that will delight general history readers and railroad fans alike.  From
the construction of the first US railroads in the 1830s to the advent of
Amtrak, this outstanding work explores the revolutionary geographical
expansion and rapid acceleration of American life made possible by the
people who built, operated and rode the US railway systems. The
"Routledge Historical Atlas of the American Railroads" traverses some of
the most exciting thoroughfares in our history and culture, and offers a
unique view of young America.  Anyone interested in the people and
events that shaped the US, general readrs, students and all railroad
fans will make this a new standard work.

JOHN F. STOVER is the leading historian and foremost authority on North
American railroads. His previous works include "American Railroads" and
"Hisory of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad".
(*THE* leading historian???   ---Jeff)

To order this book, please fill out the attached form and mail or fax.
This form is best viewed using a fixed font, such as courier.  You may
also e-mail your order, but please do not e-mail credit card or bank
information.  You may call the toll free number on the form with this information.

Ken VanWye-first TIER Books
PO Box 14274
Albuquerque, NM 87191-4274
Ph (505) 291-0518   (888) 421-8437 (421-TIER)
Fax (603) 687-3796

I do have other things to report, including a strange rnd I (07) 24 with
a "T" on the shank.  I'll write more later.

---Jeff Oaks

Dept. of Mathematics
University of Indianapolis
1400 E. Hanna Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46237

Boy did I get a lot of mail following my post on January 5!  I not only sent Nail Notes to close to 200 people, but I sent news of the website to the 280+ addresses I collected from eBay (each one was either a seller or a bidder of date nails) and to the e-mail newsgroup rrdiana.  If you wrote to me and I haven't gotten back to you yet, remind me!

The date nail website

I have added Nail Notes for Aug-Sep '99 (I found these tucked away in a file) as well as the recent Jan 5 Notes.

Of course i will continue to improve the site.  This month I plan to make some additions, which will be from among the following:

(1) More photos, like
     ---date nails in ties still in the track.
     ---assorted nails, such as International Creosoting nails, PRR wood-date nails, etc.
     ---shanks which show manufacturer's marks.
Tom Meyer, the official date nail page photographer, will take all the pictures.

(2) Links to other railroad related sites

(3) Improved text

Back issues of Nail Notes

These are found on my web page.  I found some from May, and one from November slipped me by until recently.

A mistake in my notice of the Kerville nail show.

The correct area code for Kerville is 830, not 210.  See Nail Notes Jan 5, 2000 for the details.  This and other back issues are to be found in my date nail website.

The url for the Jan 5 Nail Notes is

The type (07) 24 with a "T" on the shank

J. R. Kinard sent me a small box of nails in December.  The most amazing are the two Southern Pacific round indent 24's.  Enclosed are photos showing the heads and shanks of two of them.  The head is absolutely identical to the standard rnd I (07) 24 which is common on so many railroads.  But the shank is strange---instead of the standard type (07) diamond, there is a "T"!  The shank should look like the shank of the 18 pictured at the beginning of my web page.

Nails with the (07) diamond were manufactured at the Pittsburgh works of the American Steel & Wire Co.  AS&W had many plants, and each used a different mark.  The most common of these is type (06) (Joliet, IL) and type (08) (Donora).  So where were these "T" shank 24's made?  I found a plausible answer in a 1926 document given to me by Buz Johnston titles "Identification Marks for Nails of Various Manufacturers".  There the "T" shank is listed as "A.S.&W. Co.--Cleveland, Ohio".  I will give a full explanation of this in the next Nailer News.

J. R. also sent other odd nails, like thick shank rnd I (07) 10 and 12 (they really are over 1/4"!) and
two number sizes of Santa Fe pentagon 44.  I'll write about them later.

Check your 24's!  I want to know how common this nail is!  Let me know if you have any "T" shank 24's.

From Larry Fister (

Larry was going over some SP nails, and found an error in my list.  The following nail does not belong:

2 1/2 x 3/16 rnd R  gm    stl (18C) 40

(See page 313 of Volume II.)  According to Charles Sebesta this nail was only used by the Colorado Highway Dept. (in poles?)

Jerry Billings sold some Southern Pacific, Union Pacific, and (possibly) Great Northern nails on eBay.  Instead of sending them to the guy who won the lot, he sent them to me by mistake.  I looked them over, and in the bunch was a

2 1/2 x 1/4 rnd R     stl (07) 29

This nail has much thinner numbers than the two variations shown in Volume III, page 20.  Has anyone else seen such a nail?  I suspect it is common and I just haven't come across one yet.  It is probably from the Great Northern.

Southern Wood Piedmaon aluminum switch nail:  10

First spome background info for those of you who are new to nails.   Ties used at switches come in a variety of lengths, and to make installation easier, the ties are labeled with nails which indicate length.  A nail the size of an ordinary date nail will read, for example, "10FT".  This was driven in the end of a 10 foot tie.  They come in half foot increments, like 8'6", 9', 9'6", all the way up to 17.  Those used by the Union Pacific have foot and inch marks (like 11' 6") or say "FT" (like 9FT over 6).

The only other user of switch nails in North America is Southern Wood Piedmont, a tie treating company.  They are still using the nails, and Tom Meyer has just found 1 1/4" x 1/4" round indent aluminum 10's.  These are the first aluminum switch nails known.  A photo of the nail is enclosed.

Tom writes "Here is that aluminum switch nail that I found several of...only 10' nails were found.  Other new ties were branded with length.  Was installed by CSX within the last year.  Found in Deland, FL."

Norfolk & Western 60's

The Norfolk & Western began using date nails when their treating plant opened in 1921.  The newest nails most people can find in N&W timbers are 58's.  Dave Parmalee wrote in the Jan-Feb 1980 Nailer News that rumor states that the only 59's come from bridges near Richmond, and that rnd R (07) 60's were ordered and never used.  Supposedly in the 1970's someone saved many 60's and had traded them off sparingly.

That was all I knew about N&W late dates until Abram Burnett, in New Cumberland, PA, read the N&W section of my book.  He writes:

"Okay, this comes from two basic sources.  First was Okla ("Okie") F. Bowman, an early 1940's conductor at Roanoke, who got into date nail collecting when it first became something remarkable (around 1965-67).  I worked with Okie a great deal.

"The other source was a friend of my father's, a gent who ran the Roanoke Roadway Material Yard in the 1960s, Paul Blankenship.  He was also a 1940s type railroad guy... my father's generation, not mine.  This gentleman was frequently at our home when I was a young fellow.

"The opinio receptus, amongst those who believed such topics worthy of discussion, was as follows:

(1) that the N&W had dated ties from 1921 to 1959;

(2) that they had installed some 1959 nails, but either desisted from the dating practice in mid-year, or else installed a very small number of new ties that in 1959  -- which accounted for the exceedingly small number of '59 nails found even in the 1960s; and

(3) that kegs of '60 nails had been ordered for installation in 1960, but were never installed.

"Okie Bowman walked every old track for miles around Roanoke in the 1960s, claw hammer in hand, and he could with facility recite precise locations where '27s, '33s, '51, etc etc, could be found.

"One day (around 1968), I was working as a brakeman for Okie on a daylight local, and while he was in his locker before our trip began, he reached into a tin can on the top shelf and handed me a new '60 nail.  He said that it had been obtained from a small supply at the West Roanoke Roadway Material Yard.

"Around this time, I also asked my father to speak with Paul Blankenship and obtain information on N&W date nail practice.  The report that came back agreed in every detail with items (1), (2) and (3), above.  Unfortunately, Mister Blankenship did not send along any of the 1960 nails as a favor!"

I have a lot of other nail news items.  You'll see them soon---I want my desk cleaned off!


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