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Hanging a Field Gate When we first came into ownership of our patch of land, the first concern was the condition of the old gate leading from the road into the field. Bent, rusty and looking like a drunken man held upright with twine, our first priority became to replace it with a unit that offered more security and make it look as if someone owned the field.

Properly installed, a field gate can add value and a sense of security to your property. It's a job that can be carried out any time of the year and can make a good fill in task when other things are quiet on your smallholding.

It's important to choose a gate to suit your own personal needs. We selected a wider 14 foot (4.25m) gate for better access. The construction was maintenance free galvanised tubular steel. Catches can either be a D ring or a sliding bolt. The sliding bolt gives an additional opening option.

Shop around for your gate; we were surprised at the difference in cost. Though beware that some cheaper gates are usually constructed from a lighter gauge material. Even so, sturdy gate and post sets can differ by as much as £50.00!

Although the internet can offer cheaper alternatives, delivery costs from afar can often nullify your savings. We found our cheapest supplier in the local town.

Items you will need; · Gate · 8"x8"x8 foot post · 8"x8"x7 foot post · hinge and catches kit · Tape measure · String · Spirit level · Brace and bits · Post hole spade · Post hole grubber · Chisel head spike · Tamper · Mallet · 12" adjustable spanner · Coarse Drymix (optional) Installation As we were increasing the width, the hinge post could go in first without disturbing the original gate. Use the string and measure to position the hole whilst maintaining the line of the original gate.

The posts may seem large, but gates put a lot of weight onto the hinge post and so must be sunk at least three feet into the ground and be of a sturdy section. Thinner posts can bend with the weight of the gate. We went for pressure treated soft wood posts. For greater longevity, go for oak.

Start the excavation with the post hole spade. It has a narrow blade and is well suited for displacing the minimum amount of material and creating a more stable installation. When digging down to such a depth, removing the soil becomes difficult. This is where the post hole digger comes in. The device consists of two small spades hinged near the base. The idea is to thrust it down the hole, pull the poles apart and remove the debris.

Whilst digging you will probably hit roots and sometimes large stones. A heavy blade will assist in removing these hindrances. Ours consists of 1 ¼" square bar that has been flattened to a chisel point at one end - ideal for tough customers!

Use the measure to check depth. With an assistant, slide the post into the hole, there should be approximately 2" clearance all the way round if using coarse aggregate. Align the post using the string, If you are putting back the earth removed, then add a bit a time, tamping down hard, followed by checks to see that the post is still aligned and upright. If the conditions are very wet, muddy or there is no compressible earth available then use bagged coarse drymix to fill the hole. This is a mixture of cement and aggregates in the proportion of 1:2:4. It will take some time to go off, but properly consolidated, will allow the job to proceed.

The next step is to install the hook hinges. We decided to oppose them for added security, and install them on the inside of the post facing the field. This allows more flexibility when adjusting the gate, especially if the field slopes upwards.

Starting with the bottom hook hinge, install upright to make it easier to support the gate during the final fitting. A hole is drilled the same diameter as the width of the spike to a depth of 80% of the length of the hinge spike. The hinge is then driven home with a mallet. Take care that the hinge hook doesn't twist as it's knocked in. The height of the hinge from the floor is determined by the clearance required below the gate.

Carefully measure the distance between the top and bottom eyes of the gate hinges. Use this dimension to mark where the top hole is to be drilled. This is a good time to remember the old adage 'Measure twice, cut once!' A hole slightly larger than the threaded adjuster must be drilled all the way through, so check you have a long enough bit beforehand. Check from time to time that the brace is being held parallel and level to the post. Slide the hook in upside down until the thread appears on the far side. Thread the nut and slowly tighten, ensuring the hook doesn't twist. Measure so that both hooks project from the post the same distance.

With both hook hinges fitted, the gate can be offered up after first removing the top hinge eye from the gate. Lift the gate onto the bottom hinge hook and place the top eye over the hook. Tilt the gate upwards to realign the hinge eye thread with the hole in the top of the gate. Replace the washer and nut and tighten. Tighten the eye hinge until the gate is level in the closed position. Open the gate to see if it catches on any rising ground. If so, tighten the top hook hinge further until clearance is achieved.

Close the gate and mark where the second post will go with the catch in the centre.

The procedure for installing this post should be easier as it need not go quite so deep.

Unfortunately, in our case it took over four hours to remove the old post which had been carved from an old oak branch and seemed to move off in all directions underground. Louise likened it to extracting a very difficult molar during her nursing days.

Finally, fit the gate hook using coach screws supplied with the kit. Push in the plastic bungs and your brand new field gate is ready for action. For added security, fit a sturdy padlock and chain around each post.