Keeping barbed wire fences tight……what’s the secret?
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    Question Keeping barbed wire fences tight……what’s the secret?

    I’ve got a small little “hobby farm” on 6 acres. I’ve divided the 6 acres into several different grazing areas for the animals. I did 4 acres initially a few years ago, and recently I did the remaining two. Both times I used 8” diameter wood corner posts for the H-brace corner braces, and buried them 4ft in the ground…they are not moving. I’m using 6ft t-posts every 10ft of fence. I used the 14ga Red Brand barbed wire, stretching it pretty tight with a com-a-long, and after I pull it and nail it….everything it as tight as a guitar string.

    Fast forward a few weeks………..all of the wire is pretty floppy and loose. Not sagging loose, but definitely not as tight as it was when I first did it. The corner braces are stout and are not moving, and I used a good quality wire…….what did I do wrong?

    Also, some of the fence that I put up last year has gotten really loose from the cows pushing and scratching on it……besides pulling the staples out of the posts and pulling the wire to tighten it back up, is there an easier was to tighten it back up?
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    Senior GTT Super Slacker Gizmo2's Avatar
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    Could you possibly be making it too tight? Over a short period of time it stretches?
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    Keeping barbed wire fences tight……what’s the secret?

    First, don't hammer all the staples down hard. Leave a little room so you can adjust it later. Take a couple of wraps on your corner posts and nail them hard, but leave the line posts a little loose. If your wire is super tight and then loosening, either your wraps are coming loose, posts are moving or the wire is stretching.

    How many strands do you have? A fence stretcher will also make it much easier than a come along.
    Last edited by 56FordGuy; 03-28-2016 at 02:16 PM.
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    Senior GTT Super Slacker Gizmo2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 56FordGuy View Post
    First, don't hammer all the staples down hard. Leave a little room so you can adjust it later. Take a couple of wraps on your corner posts and nail them hard, but leave the line posts a little loose. If your wire is super tight and then loosening, either your wraps are coming loose, posts are moving or the wire is stretching.

    How many strands do you have? A fence stretcher will also make it much easier than a come along.
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    Fence wire, like any metal, will contract when cold and expand when hot. What you might be seeing now is the wire expanding in the warmer weather. Because of this 56FordGuy's advise is right on leaving the staples slightly loose. Usually the plastic wire holders on the T-posts will allow for movement. It's inevitable that you will have to make adjustments once in a while.
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    56FordGuy's Avatar
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    I had an opportunity to work on the fence tonight, so here are some examples.

    Two wraps at an anchor.



    2" double barbed staples.


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    Thermal expansion answer from another site:

    "I agree with you. One mile is 5280 feet so one mile is 12*5280 = 63360 inches. One inch of steel will expand 0.00000645 inches for every degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature so 63360 inches will expand

    63360 * 0.00000645 = 0.408672 inches per degree.

    Hence a 40 degree increase in temperature will result in an expansion of

    40 * 0.408672 = 16.35 inches."


    In my opinion, 16 inches over a mile would not be noticeable.

    The fence, from my experience becomes "loose" due to not being absolutely straight.

    If there is a curve in the fence,,, the posts will lean, the fence becomes loose.

    A laser would be helpful in aligning the fence.

    I, personally, "pull" the top strand first to align the posts.

    It the fence is going over a grade,,, the posts must be anchored so that they can not go down,,,
    OR,,, come up!!

    Steel fence has amazing strength,,, installation technique accounts for 99% of "becoming loose" issues,,

    IMHO.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CADplans View Post
    Thermal expansion answer from another site:

    "I agree with you. One mile is 5280 feet so one mile is 12*5280 = 63360 inches. One inch of steel will expand 0.00000645 inches for every degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature so 63360 inches will expand

    63360 * 0.00000645 = 0.408672 inches per degree.

    Hence a 40 degree increase in temperature will result in an expansion of

    40 * 0.408672 = 16.35 inches."


    In my opinion, 16 inches over a mile would not be noticeable.

    The fence, from my experience becomes "loose" due to not being absolutely straight.

    If there is a curve in the fence,,, the posts will lean, the fence becomes loose.

    A laser would be helpful in aligning the fence.

    I, personally, "pull" the top strand first to align the posts.

    It the fence is going over a grade,,, the posts must be anchored so that they can not go down,,,
    OR,,, come up!!

    Steel fence has amazing strength,,, installation technique accounts for 99% of "becoming loose" issues,,

    IMHO.
    I agree on installation technique. If it's getting loose it's because something gave.


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    Tight fence

    Good comments above. Installation is the key. Line posts that are leaning or on a curve will move. Deer running into a fence will occasionally stretch wire as well. Don't try to pull too long of a stretch at one time even if you have to build in line braces every hundred yards or so.

    It is absolutely important to not drive the line post staples too tight. You want that wire to give and move. Are you using high tensile barbed? If so, that has a lot of stretch and rebound so if you get it tight on installation it should stay tight.

    It's not normally recommended for barbed, but I guess you could put spring tensioners in the fence. Those are normally used on high tensile smooth wire.

    I would recommend finding a good local fence builder or farmer with good fences and see what they are doing different.

    If you want to tighten up a fence you can always bend the wire several places. Take fencing pliers or a hammer claw and put wide U in the wire. It works fairly well to tighten slightly. For more severe cases, you can either take it loose and retighten or use cut it and pull and then use crimp sleeves to hold it together. (Unless it's really loose, this is a bear as it's hard to get enough room to pull it and install sleeves.

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