Back fence mended!

After my previous attempt ended in bloodshed, today I managed to complete the task and fix my rear fence.

It had been leaning at a worrying angle, so some time ago I purchased a concrete spur to reinforce it. Today, the planets finally aligned, and I was granted the (a) time, (b) weather and (c) lack of exsanguination that I needed to do the job.

I cut back all overhanging roses before attempting this task (actually, I did that a week or so back). I started at about 9am, heading out with my spade to expose the concrete. I used an old fence post to prop the fence up throughout the process.

I borrowed a small but potent hammer from the guy across the road, as he had promised some time back, and then realised that I didn’t have a suitable chisel. One quite trip to Focus later, and I was equipped with a rather beefy looking 4″ chisel, with a plastic handle and a guard to stop me mutilating my own fist. Similar to this, only four times the size.

I set to work.

Initially things were looking promising, but after an hour of chipping away at the concrete, I had only managed to excavate to a depth of about one inch, and I was knackered. Progress was slowing, and I suspected that my chisel may have been losing its edge. Also, two big blisters were coming up on my right thumb. A new approach was called for.

I phoned my local tool hire shop, and was told that an electric concrete breaker would be about £30 + VAT for the weekend, and it would do the job nicely. Fantastic – we broke for lunch, went into town to post a parcel, and picked up the breaker on the way home. It was quite heavy, and came with an even heavier industrial transformer. About 100m up the road I realised that I may have been a little optimistic in thinking that I’d be able to carry it home (~500m) and sent Karen home to fetch the car.

After lunch, I got down to business. The breaker had no instructions for use, only a leaflet of safety instructions, so I spent a little while figuring out how to fit the bit. Once it was in place, I got down to work. Within minutes, a misjudged angle meant that the bit was now embedded in the rotten fence post underground, and my attempts to free it were only pushing it in deeper and deeper.

This was pretty much the low point of the day, though luckily I wasn’t bleeding yet.

As luck would have it, the breaker had been supplied with two bits – a flat chisel-shaped one (currently sunk balls-deep into the fence post) and a pointy one. I disconnected the chisel-shaped one, fitted the pointy one, and dug the stuck one out.

My choice of words here probably gives you the impression that I reacted coolly in the situation, thinking logically, working efficiently, and freeing that poor trapped piece of metal with poise and no panicking whatsoever, perhaps in the space of five minutes, rather than, say, 45 minutes. Feel free to maintain that impression. All I’m saying is that at no point did I start considering ways that I’d be able to install the concrete spur *around* the stuck bit, and just tell the hire shop that it had been stolen or something.

Once we were back on course, it was plain sailing. The electric concrete breaker is a remarkable piece of kit, and if I could give one piece of advice to someone attempting this task, it would be: don’t even *think* about trying to crack the concrete manually. It will drain your time, energy, optimism, soul, and, if things go really really badly, potentially your blood.

I drilled down until I couldn’t drill any further, as the body of the breaker was now down to ground level. I hadn’t managed to get all the way through the concrete, but I was deep enough. I cleared the hole of dust and debris, pushed the concrete spur into place, attached it to the fence post with two coach screws, and finally put the cement in to hold it.

The cement I was using was Hanson PostFix. It’s absolutely brilliant, and I know that it sounds a bit silly to be enthusing about a cement, but it really is great stuff. The guy who sold it to me remarked on how it was known as “lazy cement”, and he said it with a derisory tone that suggested that he considered me inferior for taking the easy way out. I don’t really have a problem with that, because I know that if I took one look at his home computer, I’d probably give him a similar treatment when I discovered that he was running Windows XP without any firewall or anti-virus software. Or even worse, he *was* using anti-virus, but it was Norton “I’ll have 80% of your CPU please” anti-virus.

So, we’re even.

Anyway, back to PostFix. Using postfix is about as challenging as putting ketchup on your chips (albeit with a very heavy ketchup bottle). Basically, you just pour or shovel the desired amount of this premixed powder into your hole, and then pour on water. No mixing whatsoever. Kick. Ass.

By 3pm, I was in the bath.

5 replies on “Back fence mended!”

When I had to fix the back fence because the kids next door kept climbing on the slats and breaking them, leaving a gaping big hole for them to stick their heads through I carted a big piece of chipboard home, nailed it in place over the hole, wedged a large beam against it as a brace and went back inside.

Within a week they’d destroyed the next fence partition along.

We moved house. That’ll teach them.

Another solution would have been to acquire a very vicious dog with a tendency to jump through small, head-sized holes and bite off small, kid-sized heads.

I was thinking more devious traps involving garden shears. “What? Your child was stupid enough to stick his head into my Mr Slicey-Dicey Choppy Chopper machine and expected to come out unscathed? Put a band-aid on the neck wound. At least its stopped screaming”

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