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Author Topic: Treating my own fence posts!  (Read 1098 times)

Offline Kojba

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Treating my own fence posts!
« on: June 09, 2018, 10:34:12 PM »
If anyone is interested, Poles Inc., is an online company that sells copper napathate at 8% (five gallons), for $210.00 shipped to your door.  It will make 20 gallons of 2 percent copper treatment for posts.  I've used this before, and it does an excellent job preserving posts.  My Father used Cuprinol, (2% copper treatment, that is now banned by EPA), on some untreated 2x4s over 30 years ago, and they are still intact.  I used it on some fence posts on my farm 5 years ago, and they are very strong.  I know it is still early, but I expect them to go 20 years.  The posts were made of pine and poplar, both soft woods, but the copper is the key.  I put them standing on their edge, in a 55 gallon drum for 24 hours.  It is only necessary to have 6 inches in the bottom of the drum, and the copper (mixed in diesel fuel) will wick up the posts and treat it through the middle.  It will usually wick up 2 or 3 foot, and I brush on the rest above that mark.  Just brush until the posts don't seem to continue soaking in anymore liquid.  Hope this helps if anyone is thinking of building a fence or using posts for a barn etc..
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Offline furu

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Re: Treating my own fence posts!
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2018, 06:33:25 AM »
Thanks for the information.  Nice to have a source if one needs it.
A direct link to their site is:  http://poles.com/
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Offline Ox

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Re: Treating my own fence posts!
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2018, 08:56:32 AM »
Good to know.  Thanks for sharing!
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Offline bandmiller2

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Re: Treating my own fence posts!
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2018, 08:02:16 PM »
Anyone here know how to make copper naphtholate I would imagine you start with copper sulphate. I would hope its  as simple as dissolving the crystals in naptha. Frank C.

Offline Cutting Edge Saw Svc.

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Re: Treating my own fence posts!
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2018, 06:49:24 AM »
Just thinkin' outside the box...

Could you put the copper solution in a 2-1/2 gal garden sprayer and spray the posts instead of brushing it on ??  Save some time/labor if doing large batches.

Never used anything of the sort... yet.  But the time is coming soon.  Whether is be a copper treatment OR tried-n-true good ole fashioned diesel fuel/used crankcase oil mix.  Fuel/oil treatment seems to take alot longer than 24hrs unless is is heated.  The cycle of heating and cooling seems to be the magic for it to wick up into the end grain of the posts.  Smelly job, but it was just something that happened every fall on farms, no different than cleaning a barn.  You just "did it".

The key around here to posts lasting long term is re-treatment right at ground level where the topsoil/grass makes contact.  Once a year, in spring before things greened up, it was common to go around and brush on/spray the same mix around the base of each post.  Oh how times have changed in 20 yrs.

We have a clay/shale soil that holds water around posts like you set them in a bucket, even with stones in the bottom of the hole for drainage.

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Offline Kojba

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Re: Treating my own fence posts!
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2018, 12:31:19 PM »
From what I've read, heard, and been told, it's better to treat the posts when they are green.  A dry post will have more difficulty soaking in the treatment, no matter what it is.  The folks at Poles Inc., recommend treating green posts; soak then brush on.  I think that spraying would be fine, but I'm not sure if I want all that chemical floating in the air that I breathe.  I wear rubber gloves, respirator, and work outdoors.  So far, so good.  I have let fuel oil and used motor fuel set for a while, and then soaked the ends of my posts in that muck.  Usually for a month or so, and that has been a good mix. 
The pressure treatment plant near me will buy poplar/pine cants for their product, but will only buy them green cut.  Even under pressure, they require green lumber for treatment.  If I had my way, I'd dry some locust posts and set them anywhere.  In Southern Maryland, we had plenty of locust, and it will last a lifetime if dried before put in the ground.  The stuff will throw sparks off of a chainsaw, if you let it set for a year or so.  All the old timers would cut white oak in the summer (sap up the tree), and put those posts in used motor oil for posts as well.  The sap is supposed to be a natural preservative.  The latest craze is to charcoal the ends of posts before planting.  Anyone who has tried to burn a stump out of the ground, knows that a burnt stump will stay in the ground FOREVER!  Never try burning a stump if you want the darn thing to rot.  Just won't happen..... 
Good to hear from you, Cutting Edge!  I will be needing some more bands if the weather ever dries up! 

Joe
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Offline Cutting Edge Saw Svc.

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Re: Treating my own fence posts!
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2018, 06:06:08 AM »
Funny you called it the latest "craze"   :laugh:  Charring posts, especially ones soaked in used oil are bout darn near petrified.  Oh the memories... and the smell.  Amazing how what was old is new again.  We charred the bottom 1/3 of the post, not just the ends. 

But 20 years ago knowledge such as this was disregarded because "modern" technology had something better.  I know of black locust posts 60+ years old that were oiled, charred and oiled again before being set that are sound.  Nuthin' wrong w/ W. Oak fence posts either, but no personal long term feedback to give.  Pole barns, W. Oak will last a lifetime if maintained.  You HAVE to buy good staples/nails to drive into them, not those cheap u-shaped wire Chinese junk.

I've never done copper treatment and didn't realize it was that nasty to deal with.  After doing a little research, spraying is feasible and worthwhile, but the atomization needs to be kept to a minimum.  Low pressure/high flow rate with a vessel to catch the excess in.  Much like oil/fuel treatment.

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Offline HaroldCR - AKA Fla.-Deadheader

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Re: Treating my own fence posts!
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2018, 07:31:06 PM »
When we were contemplating vacuum drying kiln, we stopped at a treatment plant. He wanted green lumber, so when he sucked out the water, the openings in the grain would not be dried and shriveled and the copper mix would penetrate to the center of the lumber.

Offline Stevem

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Re: Treating my own fence posts!
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2018, 09:51:01 AM »
Oregon State U. has a "post" farm where they put various fence post in the ground to test life span.  White oak "lives" a very long time but only the heart wood survives, same with western juniper.  Both as long or longer than cedar. http://ww.w.crforest.com/NewAg/downloads/phpKKcnVf_post-farm.pdf
I've had "treated" post that didn't survive 5 years, depends on what treatment.
Fire hardening has been around for thousands of years, like in spear points for cave men.
I would think that the green verses dry argument would depend on wood species.  As an example, cedar, because of its porousness, might work better dry,  not sure. The trick is to get any treatment into the center of the post, or as deep as possible.
Doug fir has to be incised to get any depth of penetration. Maybe drill holes would help?
White oak and locust are closed pour woods where the moisture doesn't penetrate and thus resists rot.
It's the drying and repeated wetting at ground level that is the killer of life span.  Any treatment needs to go above that level.
Copper is very good but it needs depth of penetration otherwise it leaches out.
The good stuff, penta, is no longer available because it killed people.
Stevem
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Offline woody

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Re: Treating my own fence posts!
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2018, 08:53:05 PM »
  If I had my way, I'd dry some locust posts and set them anywhere.  In Southern Maryland, we had plenty of locust, and it will last a lifetime if dried before put in the ground. 
Joe
I drove a locust post into the ground (in Fred. Co MD) to hang a gate on, then drove a RR tie to chain it to. This was about 22 years ago. The gate's still hanging there today, and the RR tie rotted off and fell over about 4-5 years ago!

Offline Kojba

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Re: Treating my own fence posts!
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2018, 09:46:28 PM »
Woody,,
That locust post will outlast both of us!!
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Offline Kojba

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Re: Treating my own fence posts!
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2018, 12:57:43 PM »
I've cut some 6x6's for my new shop, and treated them with copper napathate.  I brushed the copper on the sides, but was disappointed with the penetration of the solution.  I rethought the whole process, and put my posts in a barrel of copper/diesel fuel solution.  Much, much, better penetration.  48 hours in , the solution has soaked up the post about 18 inches.  I'm going to cut one post and put the pics online (if I can find out how), and we can all see the results.  With the posts being green, the solution easily goes up the post, although side penetration was less than 1/8 inch, even after several coats of copper.  My major concern is when the posts split or crack (which they all do), I don't want exposed, untreated wood showing. 
Everyone I know who treats lumber (even the local treatment plant), will only treat green lumber.  They tell me the seasoned lumber has lost it's ability to absorb treatment.  I might try drilling holes in the the green posts and see if that helps...  Keep you posted.
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Offline Ox

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Re: Treating my own fence posts!
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2018, 09:47:45 AM »
Looking forward to seeing the results of your experiments!

One of the old timers here did a great step by step on how to post pictures.  I was able to follow it and be successful, so I reckon anyone can.  Just be sure when you do a search, do it from the home page of this forum is what I was told once.
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Offline Kojba

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Re: Treating my own fence posts!
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2018, 08:43:04 PM »
Update on the posts!   I let the posts soak for 4 days in 5 inches of Copper/diesel solution.  The mixture soaked up the post aprox. 18 inches on the outside, but only 4-5 inches on the inside/center.  The outside penetration was about 1/4 to 1/2 inch, but not any solution made it near the center of the post as it wicked upwards.  If I had drilled holes?  Maybe the results would have been better with the drilled holes, but if the post cracks or splits when it dries, nothing would stop the rot.  I would use this method for above ground any day, but underground with softwood might be a bit tricky.  So far, my fence posts (in the field) have held up well with this method, not sure if I'm panicking unnecessarily.  I've seen Copper Nap treated wood last 30 years on top of the ground, but I believe pressure treating might be the only way to get a thorough penetration to the heartwood.

I also thought about drilling vertically up the pole, maybe this might be a solution.  Any thoughts?
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Offline bandmiller2

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Re: Treating my own fence posts!
« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2018, 06:26:47 AM »
We can make the wood rotting organisms uncomfortable for a wile but they will ultimately triumph. Kojba I think what your doing is as good your going to get for a home remedy. I would add some crushed stone just before the hole is filled in as most rot takes place at the ground line and the stone will allow it to drain. Frank C.

Offline Stevem

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Re: Treating my own fence posts!
« Reply #15 on: July 29, 2018, 09:51:50 AM »
I know that some woods just don't allow anything to penetrate very much.  D. fir has to be "incised" to get enough penetration.  Looks like little knife cuts along the entire length.  Forget treating white oak and probably locust, but they don't need it. Drilling holes would help.  In my experience the biggest area of rot is going to be right at the the ground line.
Stevem
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