Nail Notes--May-June, 2000

Date: Wed, 10 May 2000 11:22:52 -0500
From: Jeff Oaks <>
Organization: University of Indianapolis
Subject: Nail Notes 5-10-00

     I just put a new section on the date nail web page called "Photo
album".  I took a bunch of pictures of nails in ties on some nailing
trips in 1988, and I finally got around to scanning a few in.  Here is
the url:

If any of you have nice pictures, send them to me and I'll post them too!

I also have a few more corrections for the book:

Volume I, page 162.  (thanks to Larry Fister for pointing this out)
Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range.  Add the rnd R (47) 45.  The type (47)
line should now read
2 1/2 x 1/4  rnd R       stl (47) 41,44,44:b,45,45:b

Volume II, page 237  (thanks to Rolland Meyers & Bill Bunch for pointing
this out)
Missouri Pacific.  Add
2 1/2 x 1/4  rnd R       stl (17) 36:b
This nail, not shown on page 43 of Volume III, has numbers identical to
the 2" 36 on page 44.  It is rare.

Volume III, pages 64 and 206.  (thanks to Alan Frame for supplying this info)
Type (60) nails were made by the C. G. Hussey & Co. of Pittsburgh, PA.
Furthermore, the Maryland & Pennsylvania aluminum 47 and 48, and their
copper 49, were made by
Clendenin Bros. of Baltimore.  These nails should have a different WESIS
type.  Currently they are
1 1/4 x 3/20 rnd I        alm (60) 47,48
1 1/4 x 3/20 rnd I        cop (60) 49
and are shown in Volume III on pages 67 and 66 respectively.  In the
future these may be designated as type (65) (but not until my next
edition comes out!).


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

Subject: Nail Notes 5-31-00
Date: Wed, 31 May 2000 10:05:19 -0500
From: Jeff Oaks <>
Organization: University of Indianapolis

George Oliva <> has found the newest nails in North
American ties!  Among dates in the '90's on the Navy track in New Jersey
he located 98's.  Below is his note to me, with links to photos he took
of some of the nails.

Some of you old-timers will recall Glenn Wiswell's description of this
line two decades ago.  It seems little has changed!


Hi Jeff,

  This has been a rainy weekend at the Jersey Shore so I decided to take
a look at the Navy RR tracks at one of the few public crossings. I am
speaking of the NAVY AMMUNITION DEPOT - EARLE line from Colts Neck to
the Navy pier at Leoarnado, NJ. This is a double track line with a
parallel 2 lane road which is STRICTLY OFF LIMITS to non Navy traffic,
the line is constantly patrolled and when a train is run, the crossings
are blocked by Military Police. This is NOT a line you can walk along or
PULL NAILS from as you would almost certainly wind up in JAIL!

   I parked near one of the public grade crossings and just walked
ACROSS the Navy road and tracks - staying ON the PUBLIC road, to my
surprise almost EVERY tie has a type 61 nail in it - some outside the
rails, some inside and centered, the 5-10 ties I could look at, without
risking arrest, has 78, 82, 92 and 98 nails - 2" x 3/16 rnd I alm (61),
the 98 is underlined as not to be confused with an 86, there were also
some of the 72's of the 2 1/2 x 1/4 rnd R alm (61) variety - I actually
pulled one of these as it was very near the crossing and could be pulled
with your fingers - tie split where nail was, - it seems to me that this
nail almost deserves it's own number as it is MUCH different than the
rnd I 61 alm nails.
There will be a railfan excursion on this line on 23-24 June, first since
1982. there is a web site with the info -

For photos of the nails, go to the Photo Album.

Jeff Oaks
Deptartment of Mathematics
University of Indianapolis
1400 E. Hanna Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46237

Subject: Nail Notes 6-1-00
Date: Thu, 01 Jun 2000 14:39:25 -0500
From: Jeff Oaks <>
Organization:University of Indianapolis

Regarding the nails used by the U.S. Navy in NJ, Bill Bunch writes this:

The 92 and 98 aluminum are identical to ones I found in Potomac Edison
poles near Frederick, MD last month while on business.  The 79 is clearly
not the same, and I did not find any other nails.

What do you know about date nails on the Rio Grande?  Probably not much!
 Of all major North American railroads, the Rio Grande is the most
elusive for the person seeking information on tie treating and dating.
There are large railroads which did not use nails, like the Southern,
but in such cases I have found ample evidence of their tie treating
practices in the old RR engineering journals.  Not so for the D&RGW!

Here is what I know so far:
---In 1903 Rowe & Rowe drew up plans for a treating plant to be built at
Alamosa, CO for the Rio Grande.  The plant was listed by the AWPA in
their 1908, 1910, and 1911 Proceedings (without any details on method,
etc.), but is absent from 1912 up.

---As of 1908 the Rio Grande was not treating its ties.  I found this
out from a RR engineering book I just acquired.  It may be that the
Alamosa plant was never built, and that the AWPA lists contained the
only info the editors had---that there was *supposed* to be a plant.
(There are other problems with these lists which I won't go into here.)

---As of 1940, the D&RGW had a Superintendent of Treatment stationed at
Salida, CO. This info comes from the membership list of the AWPA.  The
treatment plant in question was run by Koppers, and was built in 1925.

---Lowell Hard pulled some 1 1/2" x 1/4" rnd R    stl (03) 29's in
Blanca, CO.  He thinks they are from second hand ties.

---New info:  Chris John ( wrote to me May 23:
> My brother pulled two 30s from the Rio Grande near Salida, Colorado.
> These nails are not shown in either DNC or your book.  They are 1 1/2 x
> 1/4 steel Round Raised type (18B) 30.  I have one and he probably
> doesn't have the other one any more.  The numbers match the 30 on page
> 48 of Volume 3 but the nail is only 1 1/2 (actually 1 5/8) inces long.
> This size is not shown in the book.  What do you think about this?

Could it be that the Rio Grande used the 29 and 30?  The lengths match,
and these nails are not known from any other source.  If they are really
D&RGW nails, I bet they were only used in special test sections, since
they are so uncommon.  Note that the 30's were found in the same town as
the treating plant!

If any of you have any info on the Rio Grande's nails or tie treating
facilities, let me know!


Subject: Nail Notes 6-3-00
Date: Sat, 03 Jun 2000 08:22:02 -0500
From: Jeff Oaks <>
Organization: University of Indianapolis

Here is an interesting current lot on eBay:
[this link is no longer available.  Click here for a photo of two of the nails.]

They are three brass nails, about 1 3/4" x 5/16", stamped 1886, 1891,
and 1936.  I had never seen nails like these before, but I was sure they
aren't dates.  Charles Sebesta agreed, and he thinks he has some stashed
away.  Bill Bunch came up with the explanation:  "In the Mark Twain
National Forest here in MO, Joe
McCraith and Frank Schultz pulled a hundred of these nails, they were
obviously pole serial numbers.  Undoubtedly not much older than the 1940s,
if that old."
     I am sure the seller is honest about them.  If I had only a passing
knowledge of date nails I'd assume they were dates, too.  Even though
they aren't from the 1800's, they are still very interesting!  Evidently
they don't turn up very often at nail shows---who has them all???

The new Nailer News is out!

These 24 pages are packed with good articles, and some articles by me!
---Charles Sebesta has an editorial on the speculative nature of nail
sets (1 1/2 pages)
---John Iacovino has a 1/2 page piece on the FML nails he found in poles.
---This is followed by 2 pages of photos from the Kerville nail show
---Then a page of small news items
---I have a 2+ page article titled "The Monon, the F&C, the NC&StL, and
the B&M"
---Dan Dupee wrote short article "A Stubby 06 on the UP?  You Bet!"
---Ron Slocum wrote a 1-pager titled "Nail Hunting in West Texas"
---I have the 2-page article "The Maryland & Pennsylvania and the Type
(60) Company"
---John Iacovino has a page of new finds in Southen California Edison poles
---This is followed by my 3 page article "The Stubby shadow
Set---Solved?"  (Answer:  The Public Service Railway Company of New Jersey)
---Jeff Slosser has a short piece "Hand-Shaped Nail Heads on Santa Fe"
---I have yet another article, a 1 page piece called "Odds & Ends"
---There is a two page photcopy of the 1917 PRR document "Specifications
for Switch Ties"
---The rest of the issue is made up of ads for nails and the next nail show

To subscribe to Nailer News, join the TDNCA.  For info on how to join,
got here:

For info on the next nail show, got here:  (I am adding more details today)

I have added more photos to the Photo Album on my web page, and I have
put in an ad for the nice booklet on date nails writen by Norman
Christian Jensen in 1983.  To see all these changes, go to the main page:


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