should i correct fence post spacing error?

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or is it an error?
the previous owner built kind of a ragtag fence around the front yard. it's about 260 ft. of fence.
the fence is built with 4x4 posts set into concrete, probably done in the early 1970's. the rails are 2x4" (double). the fence pickets are 3' tall, 1/4" x 1" W. very thin--most are broken or missing. some of the rails are mounted flat, some vertical--not sure why. many of the flatted rails have bowed terribly and come loose from the posts (no brackets, all simple nailed).
questions:
my plan is to replace the loose posts (about 3 out of 30 are slightly loose) then add new fence rails where they have bowed, hang all fence rails vertically, use brackets on the ends (rather than just nails), and use 7-1/2"x3/4"x3' cedar pickets as fill, with some space inbetween.
the 4x4x4ft. posts have 32" above ground and are spaced at 10'. from what i have read, most people space at 8' or less.
comments? my biggest concern is whether or not i should respace the posts down to 8 ft.
am in california desert in very stable, dry clay soil.
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I'd certainly leave the post spacing as is unless its crooked, then I'd straighten it. Your pickets@3/4 are gonna be too heavy, especially during monsoon season.

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Flash wrote:

You're going to put a seven-and-a-half foot picket on a 2-3/4 foot post system? Five foot of freeboard?
I suspect, in addition to the top looking wavy, the first little blow is going to put so much torque on the fence that it's going to capsize with the loss of all souls aboard.
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JerryMouse wrote:

DIY had 7-1/2" WIDE (that's on inches) cedar pickets. the new pickets will be no more than 36" long.
so the other poster says it will be too heavy with these pickets at 10 ft. spacing and also that the posts were okay but the pickets are too heavy for the span...but did bother to say what a proper picket weight would be...or the sizes appropriate...
i was under the impression that 5-7" (inch wide) pickets would add stability along the rails esp. if screwed in places, off to the sides of the picket.
also i have read that the spacing must be less than 3" due to children possibly attempting to stick their heads through it and getting stuck.
thanks for the quick replies and sorry about failing to emphasize the inches in width of the proposed pickets.
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Worked OK for 30 years right? Seems like a lot of work to correct a non-problem.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

and that many of the flat-mounted rails have bowed and detached from the posts. the fence is currently a shambles except for the posts.
the other replies were somewhat useful, especially the first where the poster says the proposed pickets are too heavy for a 10 ft. span--yet claims a 10 ft. span is alright (?) alright for what?
i was thinking wider pickets would be good because i could space the screws wide across the face, reinforcing the rail to some extent.
on the other hand, it gets heavy...so does anyone know where i can find guidelines for picket with, number of rails, length of span, picket spacing, etc...or is this "insider only" stuff? apparently some codes demand < 3" spacing for child safety.
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IMO you should re-do the entire fence. 4x4 set in concrete 30 years ago have to be rotted out and ready to fall over by now. I would at least extract the "loose" ones and see what they look like before proceeding.
Harry K
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Harry K wrote:

4x4 and dislodged the concrete a bit so i'm thinking they are a-ok for the most part. stuff lasts forever in the desert as long as it's kept painted (most of the posts still have plenty of paint on them).
an offlist msg. suggests i use sleepers at the 5 ft. mark--just simple poles to support the extra weight, so i'm still thinking about things.
mostly, i wish the previous owner had spaced the posts at 8 ft. and used some decent pickets and such...sigh.
--
FF

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Desert...yes. I was wondering how a wood post could last 30 years in concrete. They rot from ground level down, not up. Painting will not affect that.
Harry K
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Harry K wrote:

concrete plug askew when my neighbor backed into it could be a fluke.
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You have a pretty good plan. Some suggestions however.
On the posts you install consider using galvanized pipe. They make galvanized brackets to attach the rails. These will not rust or rot. If you don't like the pipe idea, use pressure treated lumber or redwood.
If you use lumber, be sure to cut some kind of angle on the top so water won't stand and rot the posts. When you set the posts in cement slope the top of the cement so water drains away.
Make sure your pickets are spaced up a bit if they stand in dirt or on the cement walkway the ends will rot.
if you use pressure treated lumber for the posts, use stainless fasteners. The new stuff they treat the wood with will eat anything else.
If the span length is a problem, you can add truss rods from the top of the post to the middle of the bottom rail and then tighten the turn buckle to take out the sag.
Use hot dip galvanized nails to attach the pickets. The ring shank or screw type hold better than common or box nails.
For 260 feet of fence consider renting or buying a nail gun.
Make a jig to hold the picket and space it properly to save you the trouble of placing each picket and making sure it is plumb.
For your rails bevel the top edge away from the pickets so water does not settle in between the picket and the rail.
Select carefully the lumber you make the rails from. You don't want the rail to be cut from the center section of the tree. The straighter the end grain is, the less twist you will have.
--

Roger Shoaf

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Roger Shoaf wrote:

wow thanks for the great hints i'll print this and take it with me! very little rain out here so water running off things is not too big of an issue.
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Flash wrote:
No real complaints about Roger's suggestions but I'll add one alternative...
I really like the very narrow picket look much better than wide that you've been discussing. Look for the pre-painted twisted-wire picket fence--will come in 50 or 100 ft rolls. Is roughly 1-1/4" wide picket w/ shaped top, w/ three support wires. I have sections that have been up here on the farm for nearly 50 years or so--they're just now beginning to really need replacement. We're dry, but not desert...
Just a suggestion for an alternative look that is easy...
I suspect you're posts are in pretty good shape owing to the dry weather if they were treated or one of the better soil-resistants woods initially. A creosote fence post will last 50 years here easily...some of the ones around the house have been in place here since right after the dust bowl drought was broken in the mid-30's and Grandpa re-graded the yard then...
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wrote:

As a construction type, I think these are good ideas for you but I think I might make the trusses outa wood because I'm not sure how well the endpoints of the rods will stay anchored correctly in the wood especially under tension as the wood ages under the hot sun (rods don't take compression in theory). Also I'd consider inverted V trusses (at least 2 truss members between posts). The negatives here might be more costly and more work but I think this will last longer as well as be stronger.
No matter what you choose to do, pay particular attention to connection details because no matter how strong the members are, if the connections fail, the fence will weaken and in time fail.
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jim wrote:

Sage advice...in arid climate (even more so than ours) following will last <a long time> (TM) :)
Simply drill through the post and attach horizontal rails w/ carriage bolt. Run rails, need not concern about matching ends at posts...use either a 2x4 blocker or a flat strap at joints and bolt there. In wet climates there's an issue of water entrapment at the joint but where it's dry like here they lasted, as I said above, 30-40 years w/ no attention. Grandpa/Dad set 8' post space and ran 12' to 16' rails. Actually easier than trying to capture both ends on a single post (although 4x4 posts are easier in that regard than the round posts here). The rails were/are Doug fir which weathers well, albeit is now expensive...but this was done before treated was available.
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<jim> wrote in message

Look at a garden gate. You have an 1/8 or larger rod with a nut and a washer on each side and a turn bucle in the middle. In the case in question, all you need to do is to attch eye bolts either the screw in type or drill through at an angle and use eye bolts with a nut and a washer.
Also the rods are not in compression, they are in tension. The rails are supported at the ends so sag would be in the middle. Running from the middle of the lower rail to either the outer edge of the upper rail.
The advantage here is you put your level on the rail and give a couple of twists to the turn buckle and you are done. 5 years from now if something sags a couple of twists of the turn buckle and you are back in business.
Also I'd consider inverted V

You are not supporting a second story on a house here you are preventing sag on a couple of 2X4's 10 feet long. If you were going to make inverted v out of lumber you might as well just plant another post hole and be done with it.
--

Roger Shoaf

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On Tue, 21 Dec 2004 10:08:19 -0800, "Roger Shoaf"

That depends on what the OP wants to do. I was trying to make suggestions based on his post layout now. 2X4's 10 feet long on the flat is a long span and over the years will sag again so the truss will take out the sag for a long time.
Also if the rod ends are within the wood and the wood splits the rod ends may not hold up well especially under tension loads. The trusses will last longer tho maybe cost more ??
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<jim> wrote in message

I really doubt the rod will split the wood. Assume you have a 1/4 hole through the rails with a washer on top near the posts and the same near the center on the bottom. The load is static and light. I would bet you could support an engine block on the end of those two slender steel rods doncha think? I like the steel with the turn buckle as you always can adjust it.
If you were to use wood with an inverted V not much is going to stop the sag of the truss timbers over time. (Think of 2X4 roof rafters)
Either way would however be satisfactory for a 3 foot picket fence, as would adding a short post in the center supporting the lower rail. The down side here is you gotta dig a hole and mix the cement.
--
Roger Shoaf
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On Tue, 21 Dec 2004 20:26:56 -0800, "Roger Shoaf"

Depends on the tension loads on the rods and how well the wood where the rod ends hold up under the hot sun (long term). I like the inverted V's better for the long haul due to less maintenance but the rods will work if the end connections are maintained and maybe if the cost is low enough, this may be the preferred choice. My purpose in my orig post was to suggest an alternative and I think I've done that. Either way should work and the OP will have to decide which pro/con he wants to live with.
>

To be honest, I haven't seen too many roof rafters of any size fail tho I have seen some. Usually other factors contribute to this. But lets face it, usually roof rafters don't fail as evidenced by the older houses. I say "usually" not never.

I agree with you. I think you offered a lot of good suggestions to begin with and I just offered one more alternative to one of them. The OP should be able to decide and either way have a fence which is better than the original design.
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<jim> wrote in message

I have 6 rental houses all built by the same guy. From the birds mouth to the ridge they are a little over 10 feet and all of the 2X4 rafters have at least 3/4" sag in the middle. They had no cross bracing or trussing of any sort. I just rebuilt one of the roofs but this time I used steel rods to jack the sag out of the roof. 1 down 5 to go.
The sag was not a failure per se. They were still supporting the sheeting and were probably to code, but the sag made the roof look like hell.
Conversely, my residence built around the same time was built by a real carpenter and the roof is nice and flat as he took the time and lumber to build it right.
--

Roger Shoaf

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