Record of my work experience with Exmoor National Park

Work experience 04-11-2014

Today we set out to repair and fit a number of gates.

We gathered the tools and put them in the mule as access to the gates was down bridleways which were too small for a land rover. The mule also has the benefit of lower soil impaction and leaves less obvious imprints on the ground due to low tyre pressures and being much lighter than a Land Rover.

The first gate required a new gate post and had a two way hinge at the bottom which causes it to fall shut no matter which way it is pushed.

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We had to remove the furniture from the old gate post (which had completely rotted through at the bottom) to fit to the new gate post.

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As the new post was slightly larger we had to dig out the hole a little

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The new post was put in position and stones put into the hole to ensure it stays firmly rooted in place.

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The stones were then tamped in using the iron bar.

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Holes were drilled for the furniture on the post and the furniture fitted using spanners and socket drivers.

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Sovereign was applied to the post to prevent it rotting.

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The next gate was a replacement as the bottom rails of the gate had rotted through, this gate also needed an auto-latch fitting.

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When fitting the top strap to the gate it is useful to use the G-cramps to secure it so you can check the positioning before drilling the holes to mount the strap, this means you can check the gate functions correctly without being committed to the position of the holes.

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The holes are then drilled, half way through from each side to meet in the middle. This ensures that the bolts are lined up correctly and will easily fit through the holes. It is important to get the rounded ends of the bolts on the inside of the gate where people will be walking so clothing or animals (such as horses) are not snagged on the sharp ends of the bolts.

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The bolts are tightened up and then the auto-latch can be fitted. When positioning the C-hasp you can use the drill bit to line up where the C-hasp needs to be by using the drill bit as though it were the C-hasp, make sure that the auto-latch will be triggered by the drill bit, then drill the hole for the C-hasp at that point.

The next gate needed a spring and auto-latch fitting as it was a field used for holding sheep. It is important farmers have automatically closing gates on fields that hold livestock and have rights of way across them to prevent livestock escaping.

This was a challenging gate as there was no obvious location to mount the auto-latch. We constructed a plinth to mount the auto-latch and bolted a plate to it. We were then able to use coach bolts to mount the auto-latch.

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The spring is fitted using fence staples, two of these are used to fix the spring in place on one end, then a nail is driven in where the other end of the spring will go, this nail is only driven in far enough to hold the spring temporarily. It is then possible to check the spring is doing what it is supposed to do. Once you are happy with the placement of the spring, two fence staples can be driven in to hold the other end and the nail can be removed.

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The last gate was a replacement pedestrian gate which also required an auto-latch and spring for stock control issues.

We dug out some earth that was restricting the movement of the gate at the latch end and then hung the new gate. We used the G-cramps to check the movement of the gate before drilling the holes for the bolts.

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A mounting plate had to be constructed to take the auto-latch mechanism as there was no place for it to be mounted on the existing gate posts due to the narrow pathway.

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The C-hasp was mounted on the gate, again using the drill bit as a guide in the auto-latch before drilling the hole.

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The spring was then mounted at the base of the gate using the same technique with the nail to test before using fence staples to secure the spring.

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The finished gate

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The last job of the day was to visit a board-walk leading to a bridge and remove the old chicken wire that had been used as a non-slip surface and replace it with welding mesh which is far harder wearing and provides a much steadier surface.

The old chicken wire was removed with a crow-bar and the new welding mesh put down with fence staples.

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