Repairing High Tensile Fencing

August 7, 2013 at 7:40 pm
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High tensile steel fencing is a popular method of fencing, as it’s easier to construct, can be strained much tighter than mild steel and won’t sag even after it has been leant on by stock. It’s much stronger than 2 strand barbed wire and without barbs is safer for both humans and animals too. With the correct equipment, this type of fence can be electrified too.

Without the barbs on the wire, it will move easily (depending on how hard you drive the staples in) through the staples, so it’s easy to keep the fence tight especially if you install it with a permanent wire tightener such as a Gripple.

In this post we’re looking at how to effectively repair a section of high tensile fencing, using Gripple joiners to make a neat, strong and permanent join that can be tightened periodically if it is required.

Tools

Tape Measure
Line marking spray
String line
Post rammer and/or mell (not a sledgehammer if you can help it)
Fencing pliers
Hammer and staples
Saw
Gripples and Gripple pliers/tighteners
Iron bar or heavy spike

Instructions

  1. Planning the line and spacing of your posts is important in any kind of fencing, but is crucial when erecting or repairing high tensile fencing, due to the level of tension that you’ll place on the wire and each post as a consequence. Each post which is placed slightly off the straight line will constantly be under the pressure of the wire to move, potentially causing it to move eventually.
  2. Ping a string line across the section that you’re repairing to give you a precise line for the posts to follow. Next, if appropriate to do so, measure the existing gap between the posts. Working along the string line, use the measurement to determine the position of your replacement posts. Use the line marking spray to clearly mark the position of your posts.
    TIPS: 
    • To get a really good finish to your work, it’s important to match the spacing of the existing posts. However, you may be replacing posts which have previously been concreted in. If you’re planning to drive posts in instead, you’ll want to avoid remnants of old concrete so you may need to adjust, depending on what you find.
    • Line marking spray is the best way to mark the position of your posts, but you can use anything suitable if you don’t have this spray available.
  3. Once you have marked the position of the posts, it’s a good idea to get all of your posts laid out in position and step back to check by eye. It’s not only easier to get a routine going when you’re driving in if the posts are already laid out, but you can take a step back and check the positioning by eye. This probably won’t highlight small positioning errors, but should highlight significant errors before you begin to drive or concrete in the posts.
  4. If you’re driving posts in, use the heavy iron bar or spike to ‘pilot’ the hole before you start. It’s possible to develop a deep hole simply by thrusting the bar into the ground and working it around, using an action similar to a giant wooden spoon in a mixing bowl.
    TIPS: 
    • Don’t get carried away and make the pilot hole too big – it should be snug enough that your post is driven in tight, but big enough to guide the post in nice and straight.
  5. You’ll find it easiest with someone to help by holding the post, but if you’ve made an effective pilot hole this can be achieved without help. Stand the post in the pilot hole and start it off by tapping in with the mell. Once it’s reasonably secure in the hole, use the post rammer to drive it in to the required depth.
    TIPS: 
    • Before you commit to banging the post in too far, check that it is upright in all directions using a spirit level.
    • If you’re banging the posts in to the correct depth (as opposed to driving them in and levelling off with a saw afterwards), then you can measure the required depth on the side of the post and keep driving the post in until the mark is level with the ground. This method is only suitable if you have a consistent ground height, such as adjacent to kerb edging.
    • Check the post is upright and approaching depth frequently, as it’s easier to correct small movements than to try and straighten a post which is wonky and fully driven in.
  6. Take a moment to check that all of your posts are upright and straight when checked against the line. This is the time to correct or reposition any posts which are out of true.
  7. When you’re happy that your posts are secure and perfectly positioned, you can begin to attach the high tensile wire itself. Before you start tapping in staples though, it’s important to mark the positioning of your staples so that the fence not only looks even, but the wires are spaced as intended (this may not always be equidistant – you may have closer spacing near the bottom of the fence) and are in line so that the wire is kept straight. 
    TIPS: 
    • You can measure the spacing from existing posts, then mark these spacings on your new posts if you are confident that the ground level is consistent to work from, such as alongside a kerb-edge.
    • Alternatively, string a line between the existing posts at the height of the existing wire. Make sure that the line is tight, then work along it, marking the position of the line against the posts. Repeat for each strand of wire that you’re replacing.
  8. Spend a moment planning how you’re going to work with the wire. High tensile steel wire is usually provided in a coil, which is heavy and is best used on a spindle which you can move along as you work. Secure one end, then it will unroll the wire in a neat, tidy and controlled way which you can offer up to your marked posts and staple in as you go. If you have access to a spindle like this, that’s often the easiest way. Alternatively, you can secure the wire to an existing strand then unroll the coil carefully by hand, making sure that it doesn’t rapidly uncoil itself, stapling as you go. If you’re repairing a short gap, it may be more efficient to uncoil all your lengths of wire, secure one end and work along, stapling them all in, a post at a time. Remember to tap your staples in at 45 degrees, and don’t hammer them all the way home yet!
    JOINING WIRE USING A GRIPPLE: 
    • A Gripple is a type of permanent wire joiner which can be tightened at any time to keep fences that might sag over time quickly and easily maintained. It operates by passing the wire through a one way ratchet, allowing the wire to be tightened, but not undone. It’s kinder to livestock, stronger and a more professional way to join wire than twisting and tying.
    • You’ll see the Gripple has holes to insert two strands of wire – choose a suitable approximate location to simply push the ends of the two pieces of wire to be joined into the holes. They’ll push in easily in one direction, but will not in the other, so you can’t install these things backwards.
    • When the wire is joined, push any excess through by hand, then use the Gripple tool to tighten the wire to the correct tension.
    • Neatly cut the excess wire off and use a Gripple twist to prevent sharp wire edges causing injury to humans or livestock.
  9. When your wire is tightened to your preferred tension, you can work along the line driving the staples home. If you anticipate tightening the wire at a later date, it’s useful to make the staple secure, but not so secure that the wire couldn’t be pulled through it by a tensioning tool in the future.
  10. If you’ve had to drive in posts at uneven heights, you can now work along the line bringing them down to the same height.

Product Recommendation

It’s very difficult to work with any kind of wire fencing without a good set of fencing pliers. They’re the easy way to remove old or incorrectly placed staples from posts and will help grasp wire for any reason, so that you can manipulate it more easily. There are some very expensive pliers on the market such as the £30 Faithfull 137/265 Fencing Pliers from Tooled Up, but if you’re only fencing occasionally, Screwfix’s Forge Steel Fencing Tool is perfectly adequate for less than £10.

Using a mell (also known as a maul, mall or biddle) is preferable to using a sledgehammer to drive posts into the ground as the large, flat striking face distributes the force more evenly across the head of the post, preventing it from splitting and other damage. The fibreglass shaft versions are the most comfortable to use and a 14lb Faithfull Fibre Glass Shaft Mell is available from Tooled Up.

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