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Kent Greenleaf

Farmer-Fence builder

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It's a pretty cheap trip to go give them all a go.  It'll be mid to late February before I can go, but I'd be glad to tag along.  Might even get them to give us a peek into the Tornado factory, if we are lucky.  As far as insight goes, I do like the looks of the upgrades to Protech's rock auger, but the Solotrac is a good bang for the buck.  Tough decisions.......

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I've been talking to Iowa Farm Eguipment  several months .I like what they have and they are very friendly and accommodating, but for the price I decided to look around .$50000 and up. I'd like to beat that just a little.

We have a lot of really rough ground, sand stone, that's just 6 inches under the surface, limestone ,red clay, very tall steep hills, and a lot of road banks .We need something that will do it  all.

I like the looks of the Solo a lot. Protech guys haven't returned my calls .Vector guy did call me, For  this kind of money , I want  what I need.

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Never used one but the knockers look alright, especially the higher spec tractor mounted. But I saw one of their tracked knocker in a show this summer and I wasn't impressed, there are better designed machines available. Think they do different ones though so could just be  a bad one.

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Isn't Iowa Farm Equipment a Bryce Suma dealer as well? The Bryce tracked machine seems much more appealing to me than the Wrag. In the soil conditions you described you will want something with a rock spike and/or pilot auger. 

Childress Fencing in Virginia just bought a Wrag tracked machine. They've made a couple posts about it on their facebook page. 

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I knew that machine went Virginia, I'm thinking about going to look at it. I drug my feet( as usual) they wanted $45000.00 .The next  one they have is $49000.00 

I suppose I really need to see it to have something to compare . I need to get hopping and give that guy a call I don't think he's more than 200 miles away.

 

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15 hours ago, Kent Greenleaf said:

I knew that machine went Virginia, I'm thinking about going to look at it. I drug my feet( as usual) they wanted $45000.00 .The next  one they have is $49000.00 

I suppose I really need to see it to have something to compare . I need to get hopping and give that guy a call I don't think he's more than 200 miles away.

 

 

For that kind of money you could go buy a good skid steer and side mast driver like a Wheatheart, Extreme, or Kiwi And still have a versatile machine that you could put many other attachments on and use for many other things. Resell would be better and easier on a skid steer as well, market is kind of limited for selling a tracked post driver. 

If your just starting out as a fence contractor I would go the skid steer route. A tracked machine would probably be better for when you are more established and know you can make the machine pay for itself. Just a thought. 

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13 hours ago, oregonfarmfencer said:

For that kind of money you could go buy a good skid steer and side mast driver like a Wheatheart, Extreme, or Kiwi And still have a versatile machine that you could put many other attachments on and use for many other things. Resell would be better and easier on a skid steer as well, market is kind of limited for selling a tracked post driver. 

If your just starting out as a fence contractor I would go the skid steer route. A tracked machine would probably be better for when you are more established and know you can make the machine pay for itself. Just a thought. 

Based on my personal experiences, I have formed a few opinions about proper fencing equipment, available labor, and selling something when we get done with it.  My opinions are fact in my world, but I don't expect that they will be fact for everyone. 

My first few drivers were center mast, 3 point mount Shavers.  Then, I had a couple center mast on skid steers.  The skid steer setup was much better, but this was still before the internet was full of useful, easily mined information.  I eventually made my way to a skid steer mounted driver with side shift, and the world seemed better.........until our economy healed up and nobody wanted to sit in the seat for $20 an hour.   Working alone, and wanting to avoid the dangers of climbing in and out of the skid steer 300 times a day, I did the wise thing and disconnected all of the safety switches and wired a pair of aluminum poles to the pilot controls for easy access from the front of the machine.  (Aluminum was for safety.....In a pinch, they should fold up, right?)

Now, I'm not sure if the internet was just getting to the point where it had the information I was looking for, or if I had just finally learned how to access what I was looking for, but when I had the notion of a one man fencing machine and Googled it, my prayers had been answered......sort of.   I couldn't afford any of the machines I'd found, and definitely not without trying one first.  Since none of the manufacturers I spoke with had a machine in the states, and I figured it'd cost $10k to visit the UK (not true by the way....it's cheap) I decided to "build" my own in the same fashion that Johnny Cash builds cars.  One piece at a time.  

With what we had in the budget, I bought a Vector Model 4, and attempted to use it on a skid steer while we put some savings back in the bank for a track dumper.  It was way too big for even the biggest of skid steers, so it went on the tractor for a while.   We kept chipping away at our contracts, and later that year I found a Yanmar C50R1, with a crane ;-), that I could get delivered right from Japan for the bargain price of $13,500.   Yes, it was a little rougher than I wanted, and I had to brush up on my Japanese, but it was in the budget.  I had about $1,500 left in the kitty, so that was the budget to make them fit together.  Long story short, 48 hours after we unloaded the Yanmar, I was driving a post in the dark with a machine that I could single hand from the ground.  I slept most of the next day, and then put her right to work.  The very first place I took it was a sopping wet Creekside that you couldn't even walk across without losing a boot.  I was a bit nervous, but right across we went, and never looked back.  That machine paid for it's self in less than 2 months, and when help no showed, it wasn't near as big a deal.   Now, our skid steer can spend it's time keeping me in posts, clearing ahead of the driver, stringing wire, packing the welding rig, etc, etc, while I drive posts.  

The difference in American post drivers vs what I'll call European or NZ drivers is night and day.  I have had the opportunity to try most of them out, and there is no contest.  Having a post cap is the simplest concept, but hasn't caught on here.  The goofy little spring loaded "post holder" that looks like a bow roller from a boat trailer just doesn't cut it.   One of the side effects of a purpose built fencing rig is the uptick in new business.  Potential customers take notice when a man cares enough about his craft to invest in the future.  Profit margin is the most enjoyable side effect.  We recently had the need for a profitability statement from our accountant, and in the 12 months following the implementation of our tracked driver,(been 5 years now) our net profitability went up just a hair over 18%.  Those kinds of real benefits need to be figured into the equation. 

With regard to versatility and resale value......About a year ago, I was riding around the hills of the UK with Si Gibbs, on our way to meet John Morgan on the top of the coldest hill in all of Wales.  Between the three of us, there was a good mix of working alone, and having a crew, as well as quite a bit of hands on experience with different drivers.  Si had an EVO 1 on order that was soon to be delivered, so that was the major topic of discussion on our drive.(I finally did confess to him that I'd had my hands on his new machine the day before.)  Now, Si is just a youngster compared to me, but he has it figured out enough to know that once he hung a driver on the back of his tractor that he bought so he could be more versatile........plowing, mowing, etc........it never came off the 3 point.  If you are only going to use a machine for one thing, it's versatility is irrelevant, and paying a man to sit in the seat will more than pay for a single hand machine.   I have never heard of anyone who made the swap and regretted it.  As far as resale goes, I am not the guy to ask.  When we buy something, it's usually worth scrap price when I get done with it.  We run the trucks past 300K miles, and equipment even farther.  I'm good about maintenance, but there is still a useful lifespan for everything, post drivers included.  I'm sure that there are some that get a lifetime out of a driver, but I'm never going to be one of them.  I am, however, in the market for an immediately available, lightly used tracked driver that is somewhere east of the Pacific and west of the Atlantic.  

I'm getting long winded here, but my Dad said something a while back that made sense of it all.  "We are in the technology business."  Longer rolls of net, tracked drivers, Gripples, HT wire, fixed knot with increased stake spacing vs yesterdays hinge joint, suitable knots for modern wire, unrollers, stretchers, and the list goes on.  Is it possible to build a good fence without all of this?  Absolutely.  Is it possible to keep the impatient customers of the short on laborers modern world happy without all of this?  Getting less likely every day. 

Don't take any of this as the gospel, as it's just the opinion of a less than intelligent fencer who, if forced to go back to his old ways of doing things, would find a new line of work. 

    

 

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I'm with west fork fence on this one. I started out with tractor knocker, as a new business if things got quiet (and they did) the tractor was versatile and you could do other jobs. I didnt though and knocker stayed on. Three years later I had a used but mechanically sound knocker sat in the yard that had depreciated a lot!. Would have been better buying a track machine to start with and if things went tits up its there to sell. 

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Lamma  is UK's premier ag machinery show on 17 and 18 Jan 2018 this coming year i n Peterborough. All UK post knocker manufacturers will be in one place if you wanted to get to talk to them all about their machines. They would know who's machines you could go and see working in the field.

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This is what we use to pound posts. Its a bit different from what most contractors have. Just to give you an idea that there are many options.

The post driver itself is a Shaver HD-10. Everything else is entirely homemade. 45 degree hydraulic tilt side to side, hydraulic forward/back tilt, slides out 4 feet from tractor as well. The table the driver is mounted to raises and lowers hydraulically, giving the ability to pound 12ft tall posts. Hydraulic up/down "foot" provides stabilization. Unit is entirely self contained, powered by a PTO pump with a 20 gallon hydraulic fluid reservoir. It is not a 3pt attachment, it is bolted directly to the tractor frame. 

The tractor itself is a 43hp Kubota. Easily can drive through an 8ft gate. 90% of what we do is small acreage fencing, having a machine this small gives us the ability to access areas and go places that larger machines simply can't do to size. Only weighs about 5k pounds, making it easily hauled on a 16ft trailer behind a 3/4 ton pickup. Loader on the front gives the ability to carry posts while pounding as well as clearing or pushing brush out of the way.

The post driving unit itself is 15 years old and has pounded enough posts to wear out two tractors. It was built because there was nothing easily available on the market at the time suitable for a contractor driving posts day in and day out. Neither I or my father had ever heard of a tracked or self propelled post driver before we stumbled across one on youtube. 

The major downside of our unit compared to a tracked post driver is it requires two men to efficiently operate. One pounding posts and one driving and laying out posts ahead. The transmission is a shuttle shift, so one could theoretically just stand on the step and move the tractor from post to post but this is unsafe in certain conditions and a bit hard on the parking brake. :lol:

No pilot auger or rock spike as well. We haven't been able to figure out a way to properly add one to the unit. For rocky conditions we have a separate tractor with a Beltec rock auger. Thankfully we don't have to use it very often.  

In addition to its size, another advantage is its speed. I have yet to see something that can pound posts and move down the fence line so fast. In wet/soft soil conditions, a wood post can be pounded in 30 seconds to 1 minute, a t-post in 10 to 20 seconds. Little to no setup at each post, just drop the foot, level the post, and start pounding. No post cap or anything else to mess with. With a skilled tractor driver and pounder operator, this thing can put a heck of a lot of posts in the ground in one day. Although from what I've seen, someone with a tracked driver that knows what there doing might be able to rival it. 

Just some of my experience. Take it with a grain of salt. Their are several options out there for post driving, the key is finding the setup that is right for you and your operation. And if you can't find it, just build it custom. :D

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This is really cool guys. Getting all this input from all this experience at one place is really great.  

The deal is that I've done without and have gotten by All my life and I'm ready to go 1st class . As a wise man I know once said..."How long do you have to want something ,before you need it?"

That's where I am, so now I need to pull the trigger on something before the weather breaks.

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16 hours ago, oregonfarmfencer said:

 

This is what we use to pound posts. Its a bit different from what most contractors have. Just to give you an idea that there are many options.

The post driver itself is a Shaver HD-10. Everything else is entirely homemade. 45 degree hydraulic tilt side to side, hydraulic forward/back tilt, slides out 4 feet from tractor as well. The table the driver is mounted to raises and lowers hydraulically, giving the ability to pound 12ft tall posts. Hydraulic up/down "foot" provides stabilization. Unit is entirely self contained, powered by a PTO pump with a 20 gallon hydraulic fluid reservoir. It is not a 3pt attachment, it is bolted directly to the tractor frame. 

The tractor itself is a 43hp Kubota. Easily can drive through an 8ft gate. 90% of what we do is small acreage fencing, having a machine this small gives us the ability to access areas and go places that larger machines simply can't do to size. Only weighs about 5k pounds, making it easily hauled on a 16ft trailer behind a 3/4 ton pickup. Loader on the front gives the ability to carry posts while pounding as well as clearing or pushing brush out of the way.

The post driving unit itself is 15 years old and has pounded enough posts to wear out two tractors. It was built because there was nothing easily available on the market at the time suitable for a contractor driving posts day in and day out. Neither I or my father had ever heard of a tracked or self propelled post driver before we stumbled across one on youtube. 

The major downside of our unit compared to a tracked post driver is it requires two men to efficiently operate. One pounding posts and one driving and laying out posts ahead. The transmission is a shuttle shift, so one could theoretically just stand on the step and move the tractor from post to post but this is unsafe in certain conditions and a bit hard on the parking brake. :lol:

No pilot auger or rock spike as well. We haven't been able to figure out a way to properly add one to the unit. For rocky conditions we have a separate tractor with a Beltec rock auger. Thankfully we don't have to use it very often.  

In addition to its size, another advantage is its speed. I have yet to see something that can pound posts and move down the fence line so fast. In wet/soft soil conditions, a wood post can be pounded in 30 seconds to 1 minute, a t-post in 10 to 20 seconds. Little to no setup at each post, just drop the foot, level the post, and start pounding. No post cap or anything else to mess with. With a skilled tractor driver and pounder operator, this thing can put a heck of a lot of posts in the ground in one day. Although from what I've seen, someone with a tracked driver that knows what there doing might be able to rival it. 

Just some of my experience. Take it with a grain of salt. Their are several options out there for post driving, the key is finding the setup that is right for you and your operation. And if you can't find it, just build it custom. :D

It looks like you guys have made some good improvements to the Shaver. 

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This is my old **** in action.  6-7"x8' driven to 54".  This was in March, 2017.  A little greasy on top, but we've been dry here for 18 months, so that ground would be a little harder than normal for that time of year.  I did finally replace my busted bullseye level, and that shaves a good 5-10 seconds per post.  One thing that really surprised me is that it'll fit in awkward places that the skid steer wouldn't.  My dream machine would have 180 degree slew and would weigh considerably less. 

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15 hours ago, Kent Greenleaf said:

This is really cool guys. Getting all this input from all this experience at one place is really great.  

The deal is that I've done without and have gotten by All my life and I'm ready to go 1st class . As a wise man I know once said..."How long do you have to want something ,before you need it?"

That's where I am, so now I need to pull the trigger on something before the weather breaks.

http://www.lammashow.com/welcome

 

Norwegian has round trip cattle class from JFK to London Gatwick for less than $500.  For about $300 more, they let you have a big seat, don't charge extra for luggage, and they'll keep your glass full.  If I didn't have to pick up my favorite Sicilian with an English accent in TX the following Monday, I'd be very tempted to go.  Maybe next year.......

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On 09/12/2017 at 02:00, Kent Greenleaf said:

Anyone have any new opinions on buying a new track machine?

Go for one with a slew.

Beware of the fine detail in the spec. E.g. protech and Bryce will fit a blade, but is it really a blade or more of a parking brake. Their both very shallow and located underneath.  Where as a solotrak has a blade deep enough to bulldoze and is located In front so you can see what your blading.

If you want to work in steep country look at the balance of the machine. It wants to be equal front and back.

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