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Monel Metal Rivets

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Well, I had to work a partial day today and was using one of my "in house" holidays to look up some information on monel metal rivets. There isn't a lot of information out there, and what exists is often just the same thing on different sites, but here is what I found out and a couple links afterwards.


First, Monel metal is NOT steel. It is a nickel copper allow, consisting of 65% or so nickel. There may be a bit of iron in it depending on the particular alloy. It is much harder than steel, resists corrosion, and is very expensive. It was invented in either 1901 or 1905 (depending on the site) by Robert Crooks Stanley of International Nickel Co of Canada and named after then president Ambrose Monell. No, the name of the alloy and the president are different by one "l" (unless that was a typo that was passed from site to site). I didn't find anything useful on the International Nickel site. Monel currently seems to be used for eyeglass frames, expensive trumpet valves, and a few marine applications. And <a href="http://stampedout.net/information-060-monel.html">dog tags</a>, at least during World War II, so says that site. (Yes, there is a web site about dog tags).


I can find no information on Monel metal rivets specifically, or at least on larger ones. Small Monel metal rivets are available. Currently Monel is available in stock configurations such as bar, rod, sheet, etc. It is possible that railroads, or a railroad supplier, purchased round bar stock and forged rivets from it to use for surveying points.


INCO no longer seems to deal in Monel. The rights are now owned by a company called Special Metals. They offer <A href="http://www.specialmetals.com/products/">5 alloys of Monel metal</A> in different configurations and for different uses.


So why use Monel for surveying rivets? Two things are obvious--the corrosion resistance and the hardness. Both would make the rivet longer lasting and more reliable for survey use. In almost all cases the rivets I have found have been in near-pristine condition with little corrosion at all. I have been able to polish them to a bright shine easily.


Most of the Monel metal rivets in my area are along the old Reading Railroad (of Monopoly fame) and were described by the NGS in 1934. They were set by the railroad before that, but it is unclear when.

One thing that jumps out at me is that these rivets cannot be older than 1905, and are more likely a bit newer. I would guess the 1920s, but not for any really good reason other than they were described in 1934.


Here are the two other decent Monel metal sites I found:


<a href="http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060615183022AA80TUu target="_blank">"Yahoo Answers</a>

<a href="http://www.mining.ca/halloffame/english/bios/stanley.html" target="_blank">Canadian Mining Hall of Fame</a>


Has anyone found rivets older or newer than 1934?


Note: The ability to put links in pages seems to be broken right now and despite my attempts to add the links as HTML code they still seem to display as what the actual HTML and not links.

Edited by mloser

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..the ones on this side of the river (w/ of Harrisburg, PA) seem to be all 1935 w/ monumentation UNK - of course, some of these are basically extensions of the same Reading lines you've been working on to the east. I have followed one line down to join up w/ the old Western Maryland Railway - but so far that line has had USC&GS disks from 1935. I was thru Sunbury last week & Reading RR's up there were 1934's & a PRR bolt or 2 from 1947. (I did not get to log any of them up there, however, for fear that the wife was going to jump out of the car)....

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I have found a number of monel rivets on an old rail line in NYC that belonged to the new York Central and has now been taken over by Amtrak. The first one I found, I thought it was plastic. At had a smooth sheen and didn't look like any rivet I had seen. It's good to know their look, if you hope to spot them.


As far as dates I would assume prior to the 1930s since starting then there begin to appear regular disks. Most of the first real logs were in the 1960s when the CGS got the data from the rail road and at that point some were already lost and some of the described structures were already very eroded.


Here's a few pictures:


This one is set in a concrete splicing chamber (KU0899):



Here's one set in a rock ledge (KU0905):



And here's a smaller one on a bridge abutment (KU0915):



Here's one that's bent over (KU0890):



Have fun. I think they're cool.

Edited by Papa-Bear-NYC

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Monel is used in large quantities by the US Navy on their submarines for components that will be in contact with sea water. Eighteen inch valves with walls on the order of two inches thick are common.


Not that that has anything to do with benchmark hunting. Just thought I would throw that in there.

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Allow me my 2 cents worth......


Monel is a 'refractory' metal.....as is Inconel.


That is; it has a very low co-efficient of expansion or contraction when exposed to extreme temperatures, especially at high temps found in the steel industry or in automotive catalytic converters. As such, it can be trusted not to move with temp extremes. As pointed out here already, due to its high nickel content, it is also impervious to rust and corrosion.


Of course, it far exceeds the places (concrete posts, steel RR works, etc) it may be mounted.


It makes perfect sense to use them as Bench Marks from a stability and longevity aspect.

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The Reading seems to have been crazy about rivets and set them on lots of bridges, culverts and even crossing signal bases. I wouldn't be surprised to find them places where they are not documented by the NGS, but I have never looked.

The PRR set larger rivets, "bolts" by NGS terms, but they have rounded heads. They seem to be a brass or copper alloy though and are never referred to as Monel metal. The RDG RR rivets are about 3/4 inch, the PRR bolts are at least an inch, maybe 1.5.

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