Follow-up on replacement fence post.

Since it looked like water would be involved, I planned to replace my round wood fence post on a really hot day, so I could play in the water.
Alas, there were only 2 or 3 days like that after June and I missed them. Coldest summer of my life.
So I used the advice I got here and started digging.
It wasn't going to well so I looked into renting a post hole digger. $48, but that would only get me an adjacent hole or 2 or 3.
So I called the fence company that put in my fence 35 years ago. How much to remove and replace one post? $400 minimum!
I don't know a handy-man I trust to do a good job.
So I googled and one page had maybe 10 ideas and I tried to use all of them.
IN SHORT, I drilled a hole in the top of the stub, and put in a lag screw. Then I thought it would rip out and I'd be better off going in from the side. The hole in the dirt wasn't big enough to hold the drill so the hole in the post pointed up a little. Screwed in the middle link of my 6' bicycle chain from college, with a lag screw, only about an 1.25 long, and a bit thick, but I don't think the thickness mattered, except bigger makes the threads longer and the head was big enough to not go through the link.
I laid pieces of 2x4 down on each side of the post, so my tools wouldn't sink into the grass/dirt. I put a jack stand on the left, set to its lowest height, and a floor jack on the right** Ran a 2x4 from the stand to the jack. Took the chain and wrapped each half in opposite directions around the 2x4. Ran a long square-shaft screwdriver though links near each end, and locked that with a small vice-style pliers on the end of the screwdriver.
** (the smallest floor jack I've seen for sale, a Big Red with the yellow plastic handle. I have a bigger one but it's so heavy, it's hard to carry.
Then pumped up the floor jack. First the chain got tight but at the very end of the first attempt, the post moved up 1/4" It was so easy. Went to buy the post then****
Lowered the jack, put a second 2x4 under the jack, retied the chain tighter, and 3 more tries each lifting a couple inches and the post was out. 24" long.
I had dug down 11 inches, but I don't think it helped much. I think he jack did almost all the work and I only needed to dig enough to drill the starter hole in the side of the post, and tighten the screw with a socket wrench. I made the starter hole a bit smaller than normal because the hole was in a part of the post where the first 3/4" of post thickness was just brushed away like dirt. (It was thicker there than 4" higher, at ground level where all that was left was 1" in diameter and that wasn't in great shape.)
I also had used water wtth the hope clumps of dirt would rise to the surface and get washed away -- didn't happen -- and to make digging early. Some people here or online thought that water would cause suction that would make pulling the post harder. I don't think it did, and if it did it was offset by other things.
As soon as the post was loose but before it was out, went to Southern States. I didnt' want the hole to collapse while the post was out. But later when it was out for 10 minutes, the hole showed no sign of collapsing. It was beautiful and smooth. Still, I'm glad I didn't leave it empty what might have turned out to be overnight or 2 weeks.
(When I got back and after a 2 hour break, with the post still in, the water level in the hole hadn't gone down a bit. My yard has a lot of clay and it shows.
**** They only had about 10 posts ($8 each) but they were slightly different diameters. Bought the smallest, 4 3/8ths, and it dropped right in, with a plop from the water in the bottom of the hole.
The post is not as nice as the original fence posts were. You can see where all the branches were cut off, and I don't think my original posts show signs of branches. OTOH, I'm sure I won't notice after a while.
And otoh, it's a lot nicer than what they had at Tractor Supply the second time, for the same price. They had a 100 4" for $8 each, 200 5" or more for a little more money, and almost 200 6" or a little more money for a little more money and (iirc the bigger ones looked nice but) the 4" ones were all hacked at, like with a machete. Maybe t2 hacks more than an inch by an inch on each post, and they weren't going to go away, because they cut into the wood but left a big chunk firmly attached. Good posts are turned on a lathe as the last step. (Well, treating with chemicals is the other last step.)
But if you're just fencing farmland or a grazing area, maybe it doesn't matter. At that same store 3 weeks earlier when went there, the 4" ones were nice, but I realized I didn't know exactly what diameter I wanted.
Oh, yeah, one guy online advertised for 36 dollars plus 10 shipping a 30" long 5/8" metal wand that was supposed to be pushed down under the post, connected to the water, that was supposed to use water pressure to lift the post. Well I made one of my own, 1" diameter, with a one-ended washing machine hose and some duck tape, and it wouldn't go more than 1 inch or less beyond what I'd dug out. It was cut off at 90 degrees and I was going to cut it off at 45 to make it "sharper", but I still don't think it would work. at least not with my soil, so I switched to the plan above. I'm glad I did.
Took about 3 hours to remove the post on Friday, and a little time before that. If I have to do this again it will go much more quickly, maybe an hour. Others reading this might get by in an hour too.
Plus some time to put in the new one, but that is minimal. Used a level to get it vertical, but at 40" I could have done it with my eyes. It was 7 feet so I still have to cut off about 20", after the rest of the fence is attached.
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On 09/13/2014 07:19 PM, micky wrote:

<snip>
You did well. I never would have thought you could get it out.
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Thanks, As you could tell, I was having my doubts too, but the thought of paying $400 was a big incentive. And when he finished in 2 hours or less, that would have bothered me.
I think I could have used a bumper jack too, and not the jack stand or floor jack, even though the angle of the chain would have been less vertical, less parallel to the direction the post had to go up. And I know I saved the bumper jack when I junked my last full-size car, a big Buick.. But it's been 25 years, and I just can't remember where I put it.
Come to think, if I did almost no digging on one side, or put the lag bolt and chain in and then maybe filled that hole with dirt again, or not, I could have put the bumper jack almost just above the lag bolt and there would have been little or no angle issue. (Because part of the post had rotted away, the post there was only 2 1/2 inches in diameter, so the chain was only 1.25 inches from the center of the post, but even if there were no rot, it would only be a little more than 2" with a 4+" post.).
BTW, I now know the original fence was put in with no cement or concrete, so I figured I didn't need to use it either.
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On 09/14/2014 04:43 PM, micky wrote:

I would probably just dug a new hole...anyway ...you did it.
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