Fence – Part 3 of ?

Yet Another Fence Post

We did get more efficient at installing the corner posts. If you continue watching that hour long video I mention in Fence – Part 2 there is another clip with more details and tips. Still rather unrealistic though; they show a single person installing a corner post by themselves like it’s no big deal. Getting the proper tools was probably the biggest help as was assembly-lining some of the steps in the shade of the garage. But it wouldn’t be us if there weren’t some snags.

All of the vertical posts and the diagonal brace posts need aluminum inserts that had to be screwed in place with set screws; after the first three corners we decided to do all of that at once in the garage, where it was cooler and less buggy. That was when we started discovering a few additional missing or faulty parts, first it was a missing nut, then two fused together washers, then a faulty insert. By then I was getting concerned and decided to go through every bag of parts to see if we were missing anything else. All total we were missing: one nut, seven set screws (one bag was missing every set screw!), and nine washers (another bag was missing every washer!), plus the faulty insert. I contacted Monica at Bluebird Fencing who was very apologetic and who immediately contacted Geotek and they were great about it and overnighted me every missing piece, and while we were at it we got a new hand-tool hub so we could actually use all four handles! My overall review of Geotek is that their customer service is amazing, but they seriously need to invest in a quality control process or person! They have answered every question we’ve had very quickly and have sent us every missing or malfunctioning part we have notified them of within a day or two, I just wish I hadn’t needed so many things replaced.

Did you see that “we have notified them of” bit? Two of the gate braces had their insert holes drilled facing the wrong way but we didn’t ask to replace them because they still function, we just had to dig a deeper hole to get the wrench down there to tighten the set screws. The other, bigger, issue we haven’t dealt with yet is that one of the horizontal braces has an endcap facing the wrong direction. One endcap needs to face up and the other needs to face down and instead this one is turned only half-way making it unusable. We’re hoping we can fix that ourselves but we haven’t tried yet.

In the end our best time was two and a half corners in a single day, not great, but much better than one a day. Practice helped of course, but so did relaxing the standard on how level the vertical posts needed to be (except the gate posts, we tried hard to get those level) and we stopped being so picky about where the braces ended up on the vertical posts. We made sure one always landed at the eighth hole, which is what the directions said, but we stopped caring if the second one was directly touching it. We did learn a lot and I have some tips for installing this type of corner system; I’m guessing some of this would apply to other types of corner systems as well.

Tips for installing the Geotek Common Sense Fence and Mule System:

  • Check EVERYTHING you get when you get it to make sure nothing is missing or faulty – literally every nut, bolt, washer, etc.
  • Have the proper tools! In this case we needed a needle nose vice grip, two wrenches and one of them absolutely must be a socket wrench (which is my new favorite tool ever), a tape measure, and a level (this wound up being optional for all but the gate posts – time will tell if that was a good choice).
  • Have at least two people, three is even better. If you have loamy soil and you buy longer bolts you might be able to do this by yourself, but if you are working with what they give you or you’re dealing with heavier soil, you need at least two people.
  • Pre-measure and mark the vertical posts for where ground level should be and mark where the target hole is for the diagonal braces.
  • If working with clay soil stop and water it occasionally if it gets too hard to work with; that helped a lot.
  • Stop partway through installing the augers and check for angles. For the vertical post try to get that auger straight down and for the diagonal ones stop intermittently and put the brace on and see where it is lining up with the vertical post. It is easier to correct as you go then after the auger is all the way in the ground.

For anyone interested in installing the Geotek Common Sense Fence and Mule System I did a voice over of that somewhat helpful video clip with our experience compared to the video.  You can watch it on our new Lantern Farm MN YouTube channel. Unfortunately, since both Nate and I had to actually be involved with the installing of our own corners we weren’t able to record our process, but I did take pictures:

Having the right tools makes all the difference!

Putting all the aluminum inserts in at one time sped things up, just make sure you put the metal braces on the diagonal posts first!

Pre-marking ground level makes this step much easier – make sure you can see that mark from every side.

Our handles almost always hit the ground before we got the diagonal auger all the way in so we had to dig a small trench to finish.

We are way too low on our angle for the diagonal post. Getting that angle right is the hardest part of the process.

We needed to clamp the metal braces in order to get the bolt far enough through to also get the washer and nut on it.

We now officially have all the corners up and one end post for each of the two gates. We just need to find, purchase, and install gates; put up the Electrobraid; and then electrify it. How hard can that be?

The Fence – Part 1 of ???

Now we move on to what has become the bane of my existence. The fence. As mentioned in this post, we decided to go with Electrobraid as our fencing material and the Common Sense Fence system with their Mule Corners and fiberglass in-line posts. Before we could install anything it had to get delivered and it was being delivered via freight (i.e. semi-truck). Our experiences with things delivered via semi have been a mixed bag thus far so I was a little nervous. Our driveway is not currently conducive to large vehicles. Long term the plan is to install a smaller circle driveway in the front of the house and a larger one behind the house between it and the future barn, but for now we just have a long somewhat twisty driveway that ends at our garage with only a small turn-around for normal sized vehicles. Hence my concerns.

The first issue was a confusion on contact info, the delivery company called Bluebird Fencing to arrange a delivery day and not me. We got that sorted and luckily I asked about equipment to unload it, namely that we don’t have any, which had apparently not been in their notes, so we got switched to a truck with a lift gate. Then of course they gave me a delivery window of “Monday.” Thanks for that. Not having gotten anything more definitive than Monday I spent the day working from home and watching out my window. The day goes by and no truck. As 4:30 PM comes and then goes I call Bluebird Fencing to make sure there hadn’t been another mess up in contact info but she hadn’t heard anything either. She did have tips for next time: always insist on a shorter window and if they won’t give one ask that they contact you the morning of delivery with a smaller window and get the drivers name and direct phone number. Not sure it would have worked, but we’ll definitely try that the next time something large is delivered via freight. About two minutes after I get off the phone with her she calls back because they had messed up our numbers again and had just called her – since she knew we were home and waiting she told them yes, we were home and waiting. Driver finally shows up around 5:30 PM while we were in the middle of making dinner. We stop everything and run outside hoping to catch him before he got too far down our driveway to discuss where exactly to unload this stuff and where he could drive his truck safely. We were not fast enough.

He gets out and starts the unloading process by opening the door and getting the pallet on the pallet jack and then we talk options. One of the other complicating factors is that our driveway is still gravel, we’ll be paving it after the barn is built (the barn will get built!), but things like pallet jacks don’t operate on our gravel driveway. We tell him where we’d like it dropped off – right behind the house and that he doesn’t have to get it that far off the gravel, literally on the grass next to the driveway will work for us. But he thinks he can do some back and forths and get the truck in a slightly better spot. I don’t know what he was trying to do, but what he did do is get back in the truck, back it up, and then pull forward. Meanwhile the still engaged pallet jack is continuing in the direction it started going – right out the back of the truck and crashing onto our driveway as Nate and I watch it all in fascinated dismay. He gets out, looks at it, and says “guess we’re hand unloading after all” and just starts unloading it onto our grass. Really wish we would have had our phones to film it. In retrospect I should have insisted he wait until I could take pictures in case anything was damaged in the fall – well other than the pallet jack which was toast, but that was his problem and not mine. We chip in and help unload which is when I first discovered that if you handle fiberglass stuff you need to wear gloves! Nate didn’t have issues, but I got several fiberglass slivers and they were not fun. We get it all unloaded and then he insisted that I needed to check if anything was broken right then and there because if I didn’t file a claim then I could never file a claim ever. I’m not sure he was correct, but I did a quick glance at everything and it all seemed fine. It was mostly steel augers and fiberglass fence posts so not exactly breakable. We signed the paperwork that said it was delivered and go back into the house to finish dinner and to not watch as he gets his semi back out of our driveway and on his way.

Once he was gone and dinner was done I went back out to make sure everything was in fact fine and that it was all there. That was a little easier said than done (doesn’t that sound familiar). Very few things were actually labeled and having never worked with any fence system of any kind it was hard to know what I was looking at. I wound up going out with the picklist, the emailed invoice, and a tape measure and checking and rechecking everything that we had. That is when I discovered that it wasn’t all there – we were missing the three anchor braces for the three planned gates. It appears that the picklist, which was two pages, didn’t print quite right and cut off that item. I contacted Bluebird Fencing who contacted Geotek (the makers of the fence system) and they were both super great and overnighted us the missing three pieces. All was well – or so we thought.

Now we just had to turn this:

Into this:


How hard could this be?