Metal Machine... Mystery?
April 24, 2015 10:17 AM   Subscribe

What is this mystery object? It's a metal spike-thing, about 8" long and 1" in diameter, hollow, with a perforated drillbit-looking tip and a flared, mushroom cap-shaped top. My son found it during a family walk near some (active) railroad tracks near our ancestral home in southern New Jersey. Our retired engineer father said, "It appears to be... a nozzle of some sort?" There was a spider living inside of it; he has since been evicted. Thanks, Hivemind!
posted by julthumbscrew to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Based on my walks along active railroad tracks, this could be anything. Rail cars loaded with scrap metal sometimes shed items that have been ripped from the innards of large, complicated, and now out-of-date machines.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 10:21 AM on April 24, 2015

it looks like a replaceable nozzle for spraying something on the right-of-way, perhaps herbicide, or much earlier on, a flamethrower for scorching the weeds away.

It does not appear to be the pin for a knuckle coupler or other part I know of.
posted by nickggully at 10:34 AM on April 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

It might be part of a pressure relief valve that sits on top of a pressurized steam, or water system.
posted by Oyéah at 10:43 AM on April 24, 2015

Could it be an old-style grounding rod? Hollow for filling with conditioning salts (scroll down, image on right).
posted by porpoise at 3:20 PM on April 24, 2015

It reminds me of something I've seen but I can't remember what (none of the earlier suggestions ring a bell.) Reddit has a good "what is this thing" group which might get an answer.
posted by anadem at 4:43 PM on April 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Does the end with the fins rotate?
posted by Beti at 5:59 PM on April 24, 2015

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