Record of my work experience with Exmoor National Park

Work experience 20-01-2015

Today we were out replacing gates all round Exmoor, before we set off we loaded up the Land Rover with all the tools and gate furniture we might need, making sure we had spares of everything. Straps (top and bottom), bolts, large fencing staples (long and short), hanging pins (drive-in and threaded) and all the tools required.

We used a long wheel-base trailer as some of the gates were twelve foot gates. They were piled on the trailer in the order we would need them so we could just take each gate off the top as we did each job.

The tickets showed that all the hanging posts were in good order, so we only had to fit top and bottom straps to the new gates and hang them.

The first gate was a twelve foot gate that had broken in some places and needed replacing.

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The new gate to go in, note the flat-bed trailer in the background with the other gates stacked on it

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The bolts were removed from the old gate and the gate dropped out, the straps can be re-used on the new gate of they are in suitable condition, this saves money and materials.

The long top strap is hammered onto the gate and then clamped with quick-action clamps. Clamping the top strap like this means you can hang the gate and test it opens and closes properly before drilling the holes to bolt the straps in place. It is important to look at where the top strap was on the old gate to give you a guide to where the strap needs to go on the new gate.

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This gate was sitting slightly too low at the falling-post end, this meant the gate had to be raised. To do this a sliver of wood can be put in between the bottom strap and the gate to raise it, but this often causes the bolt hole to be too close to the edge of the gate. In this case we used the reciprocating saw to cut a section out of the end of the gate so the top strap became recessed, this means the gate will be brought up further when the top strap is bolted into place.

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Once the gate is correctly positioned, holes are drilled through the strap ready for the bolts. 10mm bolts are used and therefore a 10mm drill bit is used to make them.

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The bolts have a round head with a square section that fits into the square holes on the strap to prevent the bolts turning when tightening them up, these round heads need to go on the side of the gate that is exposed when the gate is open to prevent people and animals injuring themselves on the sharp bolt heads. If a horse or cattle were to push past the gate they could catch themselves on the sharp bolts heads and sustain injuries.

The bolts are tightened with a ratchet ring spanner.

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The next gate was shorter, but the same principles apply.

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The bolts were removed to leave the existing furniture in place for re-use.

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This gate needed to be raised when fitted, so a wedge of timber was put in between the bottom strap and the gate. This raises the end of the gate so it will close correctly.

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The top strap is attached using the quick-action clamps and once in the correct place, holes are drilled for the bolts.

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The new gate hung with the rounded ends of the bolts on the passing side.

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It is important to note that when attaching the latch the latch must go on the bottom part of fencing staple that is used to secure it to the gate. The latch must also slope downward so if the gate moves over time the latch will continue to work correctly. The latch is positioned, then tapped gently with a hammer to mark where it will go, pilot holes are then drilled and the latch hammered into place, checking that the latch is on the fencing staple the correct way round before hammering in.

The finished gate

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The next gate was in a poor state, and had a sign which needed to be fitted to the new gate.

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The gate was cut in half using the reciprocating saw to make removal easier.

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The bolts were removed and the old gate taken away.

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You can clearly see the marks where the top strap was, this helps give a guide to where the top strap needs to be positioned on the new gate.

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The top strap is fixed in place using the quick-action clamps and the gate is tested.

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The holes are drilled for the bolts, it is important to only go half-way through from each side of the gate when using the drill, or you risk snapping the drill bit.

The bolts are then fitted with the rounded ends outward when the gate is open.

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The old latch was in perfectly good order and was re-used. The latch is on the lower leg of the staple and the latch is angled down, so if the gate sinks over time the latch will still work.

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The gate in place

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The old sign was unscrewed from the old gate and fitted to the new gate with new screws.

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The finished gate

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The next gate was another long gate, the same principles apply

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Top strap held in place by quick-action clamps to test the gate

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The holes were drilled and the bolts put through with rounded ends on the passing side of the gate. The latch was re-used, especially in this case as it had been bent to fit the falling post.

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The next gate was at the side of the road, so hi-visibility jackets had to be worn so we were visible to passing road users.

The old gate had the furniture removed and was put to one side.

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Quick-action clamps hold the top strap in place while the gate is checked for correct fall.

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The holes are drilled and the bolts fitted with the rounded ends on the passing side of the gate.

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The old latch was re-used for this gate.

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The next gate was into a private area of land and a chain was removed from the gate before work could begin.

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Quick-action clamps were used to hold the top strap in place whilst the gate was tested for fall. Note the inverted bottom hanger to make stealing the gate more difficult, this is mainly due to the gate being next to a main road.

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Holes were drilled for the bolts and the bolts fitted with the rounded ends on the passing side of the gate. The old latch was re-used and the gate was chained up again before leaving.

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