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A Good Piece of Gear

 

In which I expose my DIY efforts to the hilarity and ridicule of the men of Ricochet, “weak and feeble woman” that I am. (Next time you’re tempted to go down that path, ask yourselves how things turned out for the Spanish Armada right after Elizabeth’s speech). Thank heavens for the (men of the) British Navy, perhaps the most enduring legacy of that rotten toad Henry VIII. Rule Britannia!

Three years ago, I built a set of driveway gates. My driveway is about 13 feet wide and it’s a little tricky because there are buried electric and telephone cables along one side of it. So the first thing I had to do was call Pennsylvania One Call, the outfit one is required to call to check for buried cables (they bring sensing equipment out to find them and trace their path). To be perfectly honest, had it been in an area where I was certain there were no buried cables, I wouldn’t have bothered. But I didn’t want to electrocute myself, or even worse, cut the electric power or the phone, by drilling through the cables I knew were there with the post-hole auger, so Pennsylvania One Call it was.

I now call it “Pennsylvania Five Call.” Because that’s how many phone calls it took me to convince the guy that there were, in fact, buried cables along the side of the driveway. I can show you the series of emails. Dripping condescension and an air of superiority on their part; escalating frustration, and finally threats of calling “News at 11” after I’d electrocuted myself, on my own, until finally they sent a guy out who was willing to deal with a woman, and who acknowledged that there were, in fact, buried cables, right where I had marked the spot where I’d have liked to drill the left-hand post-hole. Imagine my surprise.

So, we adjusted.

I made the gates from 1×6 cedar decking board, following these plans, and adjusting for the actual width of my driveway. The cost of the lumber wasn’t too extortionate. I used my favorite screws, GRK, which have points that actually cut the wood, rather than spreading the fibers apart like ordinary screws. You end up with a much tighter and more accurate join between the pieces of wood you are fastening together. No pre-drilling required.

Then it came down to choosing hardware.

I’ve always been of the opinion that, when it comes to many such decisions, there are only two alternatives: the cheapest, or the best.

I’ll always be thankful I went for the best, to the extent that the hardware for the gates cost more than the lumber.

The key items are the hinges. I bought them from Snug Cottage Hardware, not the same folks as those who produced the gate plans, as they proved themselves total duds in the customer support department. Snug Cottage was great. They did make a mistake in the first shipment but corrected it immediately at no charge.

These (incredibly expensive) hinges are very special in that they are 1) surface mounted, 2) they wrap around the gate and are bolted through, so they are very stable, and 3) they are infinitely adjustable via the nuts on either end of the hinge itself. It is a matter of moments to adjust the top and bottom of the gate so that it hangs true, or to move it closer to, or further away from, either the gatepost or its mate in the gate department in your driveway.

So, why am I waxing lyrical about these hinges slightly over three years later?

Easy. My house and the property it occupies are experiencing all sorts of interesting disruptions as a result of the coal company’s undermining of the place a week or two ago.

So, this morning, I went outside to find that something had shifted overnight, that my driveway gates had fallen out of plumb, that they had jammed themselves together in the middle, and that they couldn’t be opened. (This is what they’re supposed to look like where they meet — about a 1/2-inch gap, all the way down, between them):

I got out my adjustable wrench, and fiddled with the hinges, just as you’re supposed to, and in a few short minutes had it all sorted out. The posts are a bit out of plumb East to West, and I can’t do anything about that at the moment, but I’m not too worried. Things are still shifting, and I’m hoping it will sort itself out in the next several weeks.

That’s the first actual adjustment I’ve had to make as a result of subsidence. There are some other issues, cracks, stuck doors, and the house itself is still out of plumb. I’m waiting with fingers crossed that I’ve seen the worst of it and that most of it will resolve on its own. Time will tell.

In the meantime, if you’re building a set of driveway gates, this was a delightful little project, and I highly recommend the materials I’ve mentioned. Even if you don’t have a driveway, or you don’t need gates, you still might find it entertaining and enjoyable.

Have fun!

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There are 35 comments.

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  1. Thatcher

    We don’t have a gate at the end of our driveway because we don’t want to slow the pizza delivery guys down. But if we ever install one, we’ll come back to this post. Thanks!

    • #1
    • October 9, 2018 at 12:38 pm
    • 8 likes
  2. Thatcher

    Huzzah! to my favorite Land Girl of all time! For a cheer-up, when needed. :-)

    • #2
    • October 9, 2018 at 12:43 pm
    • 2 likes
  3. Member

    Great job. I bought a steel gate at our farm. I also had a one way sign pointing out. It perplexed first time visitors. Then half way down a sign read watch for creatures . I miss the farm. Best place of many wonderful places we have lived, except for January February and March .

    • #3
    • October 9, 2018 at 12:49 pm
    • 4 likes
  4. Coolidge

    Well DONE! I love hardware and am guilty of chronic over-engineering (to some that’s the same as paying too much) for a good hardware solution. I am the prime chooser of hardware but would never tackle the actual Doing part of any DIY. I really admire those who do. Really good looking gate. Have you considered a moat?

    • #4
    • October 9, 2018 at 12:56 pm
    • 7 likes
  5. Moderator
    She Post author

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Great job. I bought a steel gate at our farm. I also had a one way sign pointing out. It perplexed first time visitors. Then half way down a sign read watch for creatures . I miss the farm. Best place of many wonderful places we have lived, except for January February and March .

    I forgot about the signs. This one’s on the gate:

    A few more:

    And, last, but not least, my favorite:

    • #5
    • October 9, 2018 at 1:03 pm
    • 12 likes
  6. Member

    She: Tags: coal company subsidence, daft girl thinks she can build gates, incompetent state officials, overcoming the odds, the dogs are so cute, working against type

    Excellent.

    • #6
    • October 9, 2018 at 1:06 pm
    • 2 likes
  7. Moderator
    She Post author

    EODmom (View Comment):

    Really good looking gate. Have you considered a moat?

    What an absolutely brilliant idea! Then I could work on the trebuchet and the mangonels (possibly they are the same thing. But different). Perhaps I mean the trebuchet and the cat. Not to mention Greek Fire. Help me @percival You’re my only hope. Or maybe @arahant in a pinch.

    • #7
    • October 9, 2018 at 1:09 pm
    • 3 likes
  8. Member

    She (View Comment):
    Then I could work on the trebuchet and the mangonels (possibly they are the same thing. But different).

    Not the same. It’s not a trebuchet thing if it ain’t got that swing. Counterweighted is much better.

    • #8
    • October 9, 2018 at 1:11 pm
    • 3 likes
  9. Contributor

    You are awesome, woman! Outstanding! And those hinges are, too! Well done! (Sorry about all the exclamation marks, but I couldn’t help myself.) But then you knew that . . .

    ;-)

    • #9
    • October 9, 2018 at 1:13 pm
    • 4 likes
  10. Moderator
    She Post author

    Stad (View Comment):

    We don’t have a gate at the end of our driveway because we don’t want to slow the pizza delivery guys down. But if we ever install one, we’ll come back to this post. Thanks!

    Thanks. Totally understand about the pizza thing. Not an issue for us, because they won’t come any nearer to us than the “flashing red light on I-40, which is several miles away. So I recently bought one of these:

    And here’s the end product:

    Yummy! (It’s another “good piece of gear”) if you want my opinion.)

    • #10
    • October 9, 2018 at 1:13 pm
    • 7 likes
  11. Coolidge

    She (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    We don’t have a gate at the end of our driveway because we don’t want to slow the pizza delivery guys down. But if we ever install one, we’ll come back to this post. Thanks!

    Thanks. Totally understand about the pizza thing. Not an issue for us, because they won’t come any nearer to us than the “flashing red light on I-40, which is several miles away. So I recently bought one of these:

    And here’s the end product:

    Yummy! (It’s another “good piece of gear”) if you want my opinion.)

    You are SUCH a show off. It’s a great piece of gear. You def need a moat. It would make such a statement. 

    • #11
    • October 9, 2018 at 1:26 pm
    • 4 likes
  12. Coolidge

    When we bought our home, the two acres around the house had a chain link fence (4 feet tall), with an incredibly heavy 14 foot wide metal gate over a cattle guard. It apparently had been left open for years, as a couple of days of opening and closing it broke the welded hinge studs off of the end, so I installed new ones. About ten years later we had the cattle guard removed and the space filled in when we put in a concrete driveway, and then an electric swing gate installed, complete with remotes. We eventually fenced the outside of the property, so we now have two electric gates 100 yards apart. It’s like a big sally port to get in.

    The 100 yard distance makes the outside gate control box the target for laser bore sighting new rifles. 

    Living the redneck dream.

    • #12
    • October 9, 2018 at 1:38 pm
    • 9 likes
  13. Moderator
    She Post author

    EODmom (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    We don’t have a gate at the end of our driveway because we don’t want to slow the pizza delivery guys down. But if we ever install one, we’ll come back to this post. Thanks!

    Thanks. Totally understand about the pizza thing. Not an issue for us, because they won’t come any nearer to us than the “flashing red light on I-40, which is several miles away. So I recently bought one of these:

    And here’s the end product:

    Yummy! (It’s another “good piece of gear”) if you want my opinion.)

    You are SUCH a show off. It’s a great piece of gear. You def need a moat. It would make such a statement.

    Yep. It would be easy, too, since I do have a backhoe. I might have to call PA Five Call again though. Not sure I’m up for that. . 

    • #13
    • October 9, 2018 at 1:48 pm
    • 4 likes
  14. Coolidge

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    When we bought our home, the two acres around the house had a chain link fence (4 feet tall), with an incredibly heavy 14 foot wide metal gate over a cattle guard. It apparently had been left open for years, as a couple of days of opening and closing it broke the welded hinge studs off of the end, so I installed new ones. About ten years later we had the cattle guard removed and the space filled in when we put in a concrete driveway, and then an electric swing gate installed, complete with remotes. We eventually fenced the outside of the property, so we now have two electric gates 100 yards apart. It’s like a big sally port to get in.

    The 100 yard distance makes the outside gate control box the target for laser bore sighting new rifles.

    Living the redneck dream.

    Exactly. All the key elements. 

    • #14
    • October 9, 2018 at 1:52 pm
    • 3 likes
  15. Contributor

    Does this need to become a new R> group? Swinging Gate Group.

    “Even if you don’t have a driveway, or you don’t need gates, you still might find it entertaining and enjoyable.”

    There is the construction, and then the second childhood pleasure of swinging on the gates. 

    • #15
    • October 9, 2018 at 2:01 pm
    • 3 likes
  16. Member

    She (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Great job. I bought a steel gate at our farm. I also had a one way sign pointing out. It perplexed first time visitors. Then half way down a sign read watch for creatures . I miss the farm. Best place of many wonderful places we have lived, except for January February and March .

    I forgot about the signs. This one’s on the gate:

    A few more:

    And, last, but not least, my favorite:

    Oh you Brits.

    • #16
    • October 9, 2018 at 2:15 pm
    • 3 likes
  17. Member

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    When we bought our home, the two acres around the house had a chain link fence (4 feet tall), with an incredibly heavy 14 foot wide metal gate over a cattle guard. It apparently had been left open for years, as a couple of days of opening and closing it broke the welded hinge studs off of the end, so I installed new ones. About ten years later we had the cattle guard removed and the space filled in when we put in a concrete driveway, and then an electric swing gate installed, complete with remotes. We eventually fenced the outside of the property, so we now have two electric gates 100 yards apart. It’s like a big sally port to get in.

    The 100 yard distance makes the outside gate control box the target for laser bore sighting new rifles.

    Living the redneck dream.

    The answer to @stad ‘s concern about the pizza guy!

    • #17
    • October 9, 2018 at 2:35 pm
    • 2 likes
  18. Member

    By the way, the matching canine sentries on either side of the gate is a nice touch. They do however seem a little short on the vicious look department. 

    • #18
    • October 9, 2018 at 3:21 pm
    • 5 likes
  19. Thatcher

    When Grandpap was courting Grandma, Great Uncle Orlie got it into his head to have a little fun. He wired the front gate with bailing wire — a lot of it. When Grandpap pulled up in his surrey, he took one look at the gate, then (as Grandpap was pretty strong) picked up the gate off of the pin hinges, opened it backwards, and drove on in. Orlie eventually had to unwire the gate himself.

    • #19
    • October 9, 2018 at 3:42 pm
    • 6 likes
  20. Coolidge

    A woman who could write that first paragraph (I’m still trying to unravel it) and build a gate is obviously a woman to be reckoned with. What’s next? Write an ode to womanhood and then repair a nuclear reactor?

     

     

     

    • #20
    • October 9, 2018 at 4:24 pm
    • 4 likes
  21. Member

    Thanks for the tip on the adjustable gate hardware @she I have a gate in a portion of my yard with lots of expansive clay beneath it. Every year has meant another surgery on the gate.

    • #21
    • October 9, 2018 at 6:32 pm
    • 3 likes
  22. Moderator
    She Post author

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    By the way, the matching canine sentries on either side of the gate is a nice touch. They do however seem a little short on the vicious look department.

    Levi and Xena. They are lovebugs.

    Shameless self-promotion alert: Here They Are. (The formatting seems to have got slightly mucked up in the Ricochet Archiving engine (or whatever it was). You have to scroll down a bit to see the dogs.

    • #22
    • October 9, 2018 at 7:03 pm
    • 3 likes
  23. Moderator
    She Post author

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    You are awesome, woman! Outstanding! And those hinges are, too! Well done! (Sorry about all the exclamation marks, but I couldn’t help myself.) But then you knew that . . .

    ;-)

    Thanks @susanquinn. You’re pretty neat yourself!

    • #23
    • October 9, 2018 at 8:33 pm
    • Like
  24. Moderator
    She Post author

    Percival (View Comment):

    When Grandpap was courting Grandma, Great Uncle Orlie got it into his head to have a little fun. He wired the front gate with bailing wire — a lot of it. When Grandpap pulled up in his surrey, he took one look at the gate, then (as Grandpap was pretty strong) picked up the gate off of the pin hinges, opened it backwards, and drove on in. Orlie eventually had to unwire the gate himself.

    What a great story. That’ll larn GU Orlie! Hope his fingers were sore. Mine are, just thinking about it.

    • #24
    • October 9, 2018 at 8:34 pm
    • 1 like
  25. Moderator
    She Post author

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    A woman who could write that first paragraph (I’m still trying to unravel it) and build a gate is obviously a woman to be reckoned with. What’s next? Write an ode to womanhood and then repair a nuclear reactor?

    Thanks for reassuring me. I was a little worried I’d hit all the high notes in the first few lines and it would all be downhill from there.

    I might work on the ode to womanhood, sort of like that idea, although I expect that such a thing, coming from me, might be atypical. Have to leave the nuclear reactor to the tender mercies of someone else, but I can do a fairly competent line in obstetrics when the need arises.

    • #25
    • October 9, 2018 at 8:43 pm
    • Like
  26. Thatcher

    She (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    By the way, the matching canine sentries on either side of the gate is a nice touch. They do however seem a little short on the vicious look department.

    Levi and Xena. They are lovebugs.

    Shameless self-promotion alert: Here They Are. (The formatting seems to have got slightly mucked up in the Ricochet Archiving engine (or whatever it was). You have to scroll down a bit to see the dogs.

    True friends of the canine variety, with whom I’ve become cyber-acquainted. It’s on my to-do list to one day meet them.

    • #26
    • October 9, 2018 at 9:47 pm
    • 1 like
  27. Member

    My mother’s neighbor’s oak tree slowly tipped over and the root ball lifted the gate post five or six inches and tipped the latch post away from the gate along with a section of fence along the property line.

    As a result, I had to have an extension welded onto the gate latch and reposition the latch several times. The tree was finally removed. Then the property line fence fell over, mostly because the 35 year old clear redwood fence posts had rotted off at the ground level, though the lean didn’t help. It was rebuilt. The new post stayed mostly plumb as the ground subsided, but I had to reposition the latch. Again. So yes, I’ve dealt with fence movement.

    Those hinges are freaking awesome.

    • #27
    • October 10, 2018 at 12:17 am
    • 3 likes
  28. Member

    Oh, and about 10 years ago when I had to replace the hinge post. Starting in late afternoon. In December. In a rainstorm. I braced and leveled the fence, cut the post free from the cap board and the stringers, and hung the new post from the cap board which made it pretty easy to get it plumb.

    I got the idea in an article on deck building which suggested placing the perimeter posts, getting the the rim joists level, then laying out and digging the holes for the posts to support the deck joists, and then placing and leveling the joists and hanging the posts from the joists. It worked for the fence post, anyway. 

    What wasn’t so easy was dealing with a chunk of concrete in the posthole in a foot of water. With hand tools. I was putting in a bigger post, so I had to do that. But I did it while the winter formula penetrating epoxy on the new post was curing, so it was all good, except for the part where I couldn’t walk so well for a few days after.

    I should have learned from the time before that when replacing the passage door on my garage turned into replacing the posts for the garage door itself and then into replacing all the wall framing from the tilt-up door to the corner of the building – including the framing for the passage door – and then about six feet of the wall around the corner. And new headers for both doors . And sistering on some 2x material to replace the outer ends of several roof joists that had old dry rot. And some new sheathing. And adding a window.

    On the bright side, the building inspectors aren’t so nosy in bad weather, so I was able to bootleg the whole job. I had to buy a wood handled framing hammer because my hands hurt too much if I used the Estwing steel hammer but I got the job done working solo, which included rehanging the tilt-up garage door. Pro tip: Don’t do [expletive] like that with autoimmune arthritis in your spine. Especially when you’re putting in 10 hour days at it and you haven’t worked construction in 20 years – which was before the arthritis was much of a problem. At least don’t do it unless you have a hot tub.

     

     

    • #28
    • October 10, 2018 at 1:19 am
    • 6 likes
  29. Member

    She (View Comment):
    Have to leave the nuclear reactor to the tender mercies of someone else, but I can do a fairly competent line in obstetrics when the need arises.

    “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
    Robert A. Heinlein

    • #29
    • October 10, 2018 at 1:48 am
    • 5 likes
  30. Moderator
    She Post author

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    Those hinges are freaking awesome.

    They really are. Things are pretty much where they stood yesterday, this morning. Even if the posts end up slightly out of plumb in the East-West direction, because the hinges are surface mounted, I can probably compensate for it by shimming the hinge support on the gateposts out a bit, top or bottom. And I can take care of the North-South squiffiness by adjusting the nuts on the threaded bars. So much better than those farm gate hinge supports you drill into the posts (I know they work well with round and irregular fence posts, I have a few of those myself. But if you need to re-hang for some reason, or move the hinge in the post, you usually have to plant a new post.)

    All the driveway gateposts have to do is stay firmly in the ground, which, so far, they have done. (I put them in. They should be good, I think.)

    • #30
    • October 10, 2018 at 6:52 am
    • 2 likes
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