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Tape Gate

February 27, 2016

I built a 5 wire hi-tensile fence two grazing seasons ago. I made all but one of the gates out of electrified poly tape. I've held off on posting about the gates because I wanted to make sure they'd do their intended job effectively before showing them off to the interwebs.

So far I'm pleased. Tape gates are way cheaper than metal swinging gates and they can easily be made to any width one desires. There is no (well, perhaps less) need to be fastidious about getting the posts on either side of the gate precisely 10, 12, 14, 16, etc feet apart because the tape just strings to whatever the width of the gap is. I made one gate almost 30 feet wide for easy tractor  and implement access. Out of metal a gate that size would be unwieldy and very expensive. Out of tape it was only a few dollars more than the 10 foot gate pictured above. 

Here in the close-up some of the important details are apparent. The tape is held by a thick, pre-drilled fiberglass post. At the top and the bottom I bent a loop of wire around the wooden post and through the fiberglass. On the fixed side I nailed the wire loop to the post. On the side that opens I nailed the lower loop to the post but did not run the wire through the fiberglass rod. I did send the wire loop through the fiberglass on the upper loop of the opening side, but did not nail it. So when the fence is open the fiberglass rod one grabs and swings is attached to the top loop of wire permanently, and the bottom loop is attached to the wooden post. On the fixed side (shown above) the hi-tensile wire is relatively rigid and holds the fiberglass rod four or so inches from the wood. Then I threaded the tape back and forth through the fiberglass so one strand of tape crosses the gate opening at the same height as the wires of the fence. On the two widest gates I ran the tape through a 3/8 fiberglass rod or two to prevent excessive sagging in the middle.

The last important detail is the electricity. I put a cut-out switch (the red thing) on each gate so I can turn them off and on individually when passing through. It would be possible to get through a gate like this with the fence on and no switch, but the risk of inadvertent shocks is higher than I am prepared to deal with. I DO NOT use the gate to carry the power for the fence across the gate gap. I buried insulated fence wire to carry the charge across. If I used the gate to do that every time I flipped the switch it would kill all the fence down stream from the gate. Also, I use a powerful fencing energizer than can burn through poly wire if it grounds effectively. I wouldn't want to lose the charge on my fence because the tape burned out. Finally, poly tape and wire can carry a charge pretty well, but they pale compared to 12 gauge wire. If the gates had to carry the charge across the gaps they would represent a significant drain on the power of the shock the fence could deliver at its distal end.

-Edmund

Edmund Brown

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