Dating antiques square nails

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In the first decade of the 20th century railroads which used date nails drove them into every treated tie.

Some lines found the record obtained by this method to be a failure, so beginning 1909 some railroads concentrated their record in special test sections.

Ties were never removed because of age, so date nails did not tell section foremen when to replace ties.

In fact, some railroads found that dated ties lasted longer than usual because the men took special care of them.

Lengths run from a paltry 3/4" up to 3", with shank diameters running from 1/8" up to 5/16".

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It indicates that the nail was made by American Steel & Wire Co.For a good site on date nails from poles, go to Scott Weed's site: Most date nails are steel, though many are copper, aluminum, malleable iron, or brass.Then the nails were driven into ties either at the treating plant, to indicate the year of treatment, or at the track, to indicate the year the tie was laid.When a rotted or mechanically damaged tie was removed, the date on the nail was noted.

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