On the placing of nails in witness trees
I've been chasing GLO corners now for over 40 years. I have set nails in witness trees for most of that time. Usually whatever I had in my pocket. 16d, 30d, aluminum, whatever. The USFS says "aluminum nails". We were told that their impact at the sawmill was much less destructive. I've run a sawmill, so I agree.
At the time I set those 30d nails, I did not care who hit it with their chainsaw, or sawmill. They should "leave my witness trees alone". They should not destroy corners. Once, when I was about 18 yrs old, I priced a job based on records, that a certain section corner was "in". It was not. It degenerated till I'd searched well for it, using GLO creek ties. The monument was eventually found, on its side, and ripped out with tree planting equipment. I finally was able to find an aluminum nail, in witness tree, (stump was all that was left, and it was rotten) there were 2 of these. I spent over a whole day, replacing this monument. I did get it, but profitability was in the dumpster.
But, it gave me to think. I actually occasionally set 2 monuments, one burried for the event That the surface one gets knocked out.
I've lived long enough to see the trees, with steel nails seem more prone to lightning strikes. And, the lightning seems to go right through the big steel nail.
So, my question is: what is best? What kind of nail really preserves the witness tree the best? I'm getting ready to order some more nails.
As a side note, I've become sweet on those fluted concrete, or masonry nails. Just for control nails. They make metal detectors sing better than plain nails. And, they are distinctive. Lots cheaper than PK nails, or MagHub nails. And, I've set those in witness trees.
So, what nails are "best" for witness trees, and is it worth it to keep multiple nail types in your vest?
I'd like to do all of it with fluted masonry nails, as they meet my surveyor needs well.
I'm blathering here, but this simple choice could mean the difference between a lost corner, and an easily found/preserved corner.
Aluminum vs steel nails?
And, if you use steel ones, high carbon, vs low carbon?
What practice preserves things the "best"?
We rarely use trees for references as nearly all section corners are along roads here. Fence posts and power poles plus culverts are the most common items out in the country. Lots of telephone pedestals, too. Road sign posts and utility witness posts come in handy on occasion. Two bad things with using trees is guessing which tree may have been used and having the tree grow over the nail completely.
I use mag nails with whiskers. Easy to spot by eye or metal detector.
Adding whiskers is a great suggestion. They last quite awhile unless varmints find them tasty. They tend to fade to a grayish white over time but still stand out far better than a plain nail head.
Just cut an "X" or Alligator on them here. One paper company required 60d nails in the center of the "X" with turned angles and distances to the center so the corner could be resected in, accurately, from the witness trees without having to run the line. That was short lived and they sold to someone who doesn't care now, so I don't drive nails. Honestly, we don't mark a lot of trees anymore. Everything we do is on the grid and it's just too easy to reset something. We call it the era of disposable control.