Nail Notes--October, 2000

Subject: Nail Notes 10-24-00
Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2000 10:23:29 -0500
From: Jeff Oaks <>
Organization: University of Indianapolis

I have quite a number of news items to report this time.  As always, if
you do not want to subscribe to "Nail Notes", let me know and I'll take
you off the list (but only if you say "please"!).

Don't forget the Shelbyville, KY nail show in March!  Go here for info:

Also, if you haven't bought my book _Date Nails and Railroad Tie
Preservation_ yet, I now accept Paypal.  A couple people nagged me to
sign up, so I did.  For info on the book, go here:

As some of you saw on eBay, David Anderson ( sold
the domain name "" for $2,000.00 to  The buyer is unknown to me.  I first noticed
the buyer's e-mail address on September 4, when I sent out my usual
blurb about my web page.  This person does not subscribe to this list.

Perhaps the buyer was convinced by David's statement that the site will
probably be worth $100,000 in 5 or 10 years, together with the statement
"In 5 years, if it's not worth more than you pay me for it, and I'm
still living (I'm only 56 and fighting hard to keep living), I'll buy it
back from you for double your purchase price. E-Bay can hold me to that."

We all wish the buyer good luck!  To view the auction, go here:

And to top it off, another seller,, is now
offering the site "" with a starting bid of $1000.00!!!  The
title of the auction is "Get Big, Real Big! With Date Nails! Make $$$".
(The seller is unaware that "Real" is an adjective, not an adverb.)  You
can visit this one at

Jim Sinsley ( has pointed out a couple errors on my
Southern California Edison page (vol. III, p. 103).  All nails with the
exception of the small 36 are 2", not 1 3/4".  Also, the 36:a, 36:c, and
the 37 are type (18C).

The Maine Central (05) 30 and 31 are now a problem.  John Iacovino
pulled several of each in one stretch of track on the line from
Brunswick to Rockland, ME.  No one else has reported these nails.  John
is a meticulous record keeper, so there is no doubt he found these where
he says he did.  So the question is:  Did the Maine Central order and
use these nails?

It could be that because they date from the first years of tie treating
for the Maine Central, these nails were used a test section to monitor
the lives of treated ties.  Or it could be that the whole lot of ties
were purchased by some treating company which put the nails in, or the
nails may all be from second hand ties from some other railroad (the
Cotton Belt is the only other railroad known to have used these).  The
problem is that we do not know if the Maine Central used them.  So we
have yet another nail mystery!

Incidentally, no one has found a 32 or a 69 on this railroad.

Spokane International finds

Jim Sinsley ( has been pulling nails on this line,
and his nails do not quite correspond to what I list in vol. II, p. 321.

Jim, Rolland Meyers, and Jerry Braun have found every nail in my list
except the 1 3/4" round 51.  They have instead pulled a total of seven 2
1/2" rnd R (18C) 51's.  In addition, they found one 2 1/2" rnd R (18C) 54.

I checked with Charles Sebesta, who gave me much of my info on the SI
set.  He has in his collection:
2 1/2 x 1/4  pnt R   stl (18C) 51
1 3/4 x 1/4  rnd R   stl (18C) 51,53,54,55,57
2     x 1/4  rnd R   stl (18C) 52

Here is the conclusion:  The 2 1/2" rnd R (18C) 51 belongs to the set.
The 1 3/4" 51 and the 2 1/2" 54 are each possibilities, but I am not
certain they belong.  Yet ANOTHER nail mystery!  Can any of you out
there help with this one?

Aluminum tags on the Grand Trunk

John Bergmeier ( sent me this note, with
pictures, in September:

"I wanted to pass these photos onto you.  I stumbled across these earlier
this year, in January, and finally returned with digital camera in hand to
take some shots.  I'm not exactly sure what the story is with these but
figured that someone might have an idea.  The little aluminum tags are 1 1/4"
in diameter, held in place with roofing nails, and are/were sequentially
numbered on ties from #1 - #67.  I say were because when I visited in
January, I found the #67 tie pulled and laying in the ditch nearby.  I have
that one now.  When I revisited this weekend, there were a few middle ties
missing the tags.

"My guess is that it has something to do with the way the rail is
attached to
the tie.  Maybe they are recording the interaction of the attachment to the
tie?  I am not a railroad man so I don't know for sure, but this attachment
system looks different.  I have included a photo of it for your inspection."

Go here for the pics:  (--1--)(--2--) (--3--)(--4--) (--5--)

New Southern Wood Piedmont finds

A while back Wesley Hodges ( mailed me his SWP switch
nail collection.  These are the short nails which show the length of
switch ties---a 13 over 6 was driven into a tie 13 feet 6 inches, for example.

Wes had the following which are not shown in my book:
Set #1  9:b (I forgot to note just how it is different before I mailed
them back!)
Set #2  9, 14/6
Set #4  12, 13
Set #5  9:b (large number)

More photos of the UP 1866 treating plant

John Carbutt published two stereo photos of the UP treating plant in
1866.  Both can be found at the UP's website:

Go to JC222 and JC223.

Book on crossties

In 1991 the Railway Tie Association published Paul D. Webster's book _A
150 Year Success Story:  The Wood Crosstie_.  It has the additional
subtitle "A Three-Quarters Of A Century History".  The book is
paperback, 8 1/2" x 11", and has 277 pages.  It is mainly a collection
of reprints from Cross Tie Bulletin.  I will review it in the next
Nailer News.  If you can't wait and want to order a copy now, go to the
RTA web page: & D Briefings

The cost is $9.95 + $4.30 s&h.

The GN stamped the date as well as used a date nail in the 1960's.  Dan
( sent me a photo of a tis stamped "68" with a 68
date nail on the old Somers line (now dismantled).  He sent the pic in a
format I haven't converted yet, so I'll post the picture later.  Has
anyone else seen these stamps?


Jeff Oaks, Associate Professor
Deptartment of Mathematics
University of Indianapolis
1400 E. Hanna Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46227

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