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date nails
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firstbelt
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date nails
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« on: Jul 3rd, 2014, 8:41pm »
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Railroads used to put date nails with a year to indicate when a cross-tie was installed.  This would let them know how long ties had been in use, so they could replace them after X number of years, depending on their maintenance practices.
 
I was out roaming around today, ended up in Falconer, NY.  Nothing working on the WNY&P.  However, I was stumbling around the tracks originally laid by the Erie RR between Jamestown and Hornell, NY.  I was surprised to find a date nail in one tie.  To my recollection, it was a practice discontinued in the 1970s.
 
A further coincidence, the date was (19)57 - the same number of years since the tie was installed.


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ClydeDET
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Re: date nails
 
« Reply #1 on: Jul 4th, 2014, 6:49pm »
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Presume that track is no longer in use? And what is the white stuff all over it? River-washed quartz sand? or what? Not ice or snow in July, I hope...

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Lfire83
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Re: date nails
 
« Reply #2 on: Jul 4th, 2014, 8:03pm »
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Here in Georgia, while most crossties last only a handful of years due to the climate, I have occasionally come across hand cut ties. According to the older railroaders, these ties are closer to a hundred years old. I find it unfathomable, but having seen ties up north with date nails of the 30's, it may just be some ties hold out longer.  
 
New ties come in and snap in half sometimes when the TKO puts them in.... what a change from the old days.


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NEFAN
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Re: date nails
 
« Reply #3 on: Jul 5th, 2014, 5:13pm »
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Good find. I have a few of these that I found on the NYS&W in the late 70's and early 80's before they began the tie replacement programs. The earliest one I found was from the 1930's. Ties can last along time.

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ClydeDET
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Re: date nails
 
« Reply #4 on: Jul 5th, 2014, 6:41pm »
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on Jul 5th, 2014, 5:13pm, NEFAN wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Good find. I have a few of these that I found on the NYS&W in the late 70's and early 80's before they began the tie replacement programs. The earliest one I found was from the 1930's. Ties can last along time.

 
Or just be left in place, irregardless of condition, for a long time. Saw some really rotted out ones piled up next to the track after a major replacement campaign through here a couple of years ago.


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firstbelt
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Re: date nails
 
« Reply #5 on: Jul 7th, 2014, 7:17pm »
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on Jul 4th, 2014, 6:49pm, ClydeDET wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Presume that track is no longer in use? And what is the white stuff all over it? River-washed quartz sand? or what? Not ice or snow in July, I hope...

 
To put your mind at ease, it wasn't snow.  I've seen an aerial view of Falconer that shows some covered hoppers.  I wouldn't doubt that it was "river-washed quartz sand."  Bear in mind, Corning Glass is just a couple hours to the east.  I searched around for freight products that WNYP handles, but couldn't find anything.
 
There are a couple sidings along the main through track.  One of them had several cars parked on it.  Another siding looks like it wouldn't hold up to any traffic.
 
Bob


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George_Harris
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Re: date nails
 
« Reply #6 on: Aug 2nd, 2014, 8:53pm »
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on Jul 4th, 2014, 8:03pm, Lfire83 wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Here in Georgia, while most crossties last only a handful of years due to the climate, I have occasionally come across hand cut ties. According to the older railroaders, these ties are closer to a hundred years old. I find it unfathomable, but having seen ties up north with date nails of the 30's, it may just be some ties hold out longer.  
 
New ties come in and snap in half sometimes when the TKO puts them in.... what a change from the old days.

Like to find out something about these ties that "snap in half"  Maybe these are the old ties when taken out.  Some tie replacement systems cut the old ties into three pieces so they can be pulled out between the rails rather than having to push the old tie out to one side.  
 
In general tie quality is not that much worse now than it has ever been.  Preservative treatment in general tends to be better.  The average length of time a tie spends in track is usually somewhere above 30 years.  Even in main tracks a life of 25 to 30 years is the norm.  Southern Railway did a 30 year experiment on preservative treatments.  It ended sometime in the late 1990's if I remember right, and with some of the treatments they had ties that were still in reasonably good condition after the 30 years.
 
For more than you probably ever wanted to know about wood crossties, visit the website of the Railway Tie Association, www.rta.org


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Henry
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Re: date nails
 
« Reply #7 on: Aug 2nd, 2014, 10:08pm »
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When I was a kid in the early 1970s I pulled a bunch of date nails from beat up ties on the NYC's Niagara Branch. I didn't know what they were until many years later. I had 1926 (26) through 1933 (33) and a few other years. I kept them in a small box in my basement, but they magically disappeared in the late 1970s or early 1980s.
 
Henry


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trainwatcher1100

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Re: date nails
 
« Reply #8 on: Aug 4th, 2014, 10:49am »
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I got hooked on date nails in the early 70's, when it was the subject of a fair amount of buzz in the railfan press. I bought a nail-puller and an illustrated guide with prices, and went scouting all over Jersey and Eastern PA.
 
Over time, I gathered and sorted a shoebox-full of nails from mains, sidings, yards, branches, and abandoned lines of NYS&W, DL&W, CNJ, W&N, Reading, PRR, Erie, and others. They ranged from rust-encrusted and barely readable to virtually pristine. Many were from the 50's, a few from as far back as 1917.
 
When I had to downsize my RR stuff for moving, I gave the nails to a young railfan friend of a railfan friend, hoping to inspire him to continue the quest.
 
Since then the hobby seems to have died, whether due to overexposure, the evaporation of monetary value, or simple lack of general interest. But it was great fun while it lasted.
 
- Trainwatcher1100


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