This DVD is reviewed in podcast 070 and Geoff Lawton is interviewed in podcasts 089 and 090
food forests DVD


Permies likes homestead and the farmer likes motor oil to preserve fence posts? permies
  Search | Permaculture Wiki | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies | World Domination!
Register / Login


permies » forums » homesteading » homestead
Bookmark "motor oil to preserve fence posts?" Watch "motor oil to preserve fence posts?" New topic
Author

motor oil to preserve fence posts?

Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    2
so I thought I'd give folks here a chance to talk me out of this plan before I put it in action
but I've known some old timers who would make fence posts outa the type of small round wood you get when someone clears land by soaking them in a barrel of used motor oil for a month or two

this seems like it could greatly reduce the expence of some post replacements and fencing projects I've been putting off, but I am worries about weather the oil would do any damage to the water table or the lil crick about a quarter mile downhill, on the other other hand seems to me like the used oil can't be much more toxic than the gick they use to make treated posts
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
i've heard of soaking in creosote but not motor oil..don't think i'd want that in my soil


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
                


Joined: Feb 09, 2010
Posts: 44
Location: West Coast of Canada
Brenda Groth wrote:
i've heard of soaking in creosote but not motor oil..don't think i'd want that in my soil

I think I'd like creosote in the soil even less!

What some folks here do is to char the end of the post in a fire.  I haven't tried it myself, but many people swear it works.
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1777
    
    9
Yikes!  I had one old timer tell me that he used motor oil to kill wild black berry bushes, just a little on a few leaves and it would be carried down through the plant to the roots killing it completely.  But he added that later he noticed differences in the area where the plants had been and tested the soil - the results were very scary and he never used motor oil on his property again. 

If you live in an area that grows trees you can plan for the replacing of your fence posts by planting trees along the fence line.  In a few years when the post start to fail simply secure your fencing to the living tree, eventually replacing all of the the old posts.  Use plastic posts and electric line in areas where trees are not yet big enough or not practical. 
Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    2
Jami,

I'd love to see those results or a good anaylisis of the concept from what I've seen first hand though I can't wrap why it would be any more damaging than creosote treatment and I certianly don't like my goats scratching themselves on nasty gick that they put into treated lumber.

only problem I have with planting a row of treas for fence is I only have a one acre pasture and trees on the south end would shade out the grass 
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1777
    
    9
Sorry Brice, I have no evidence or documentation, just this old guys personal story, but I believed him.

If the goats rub themselves against your posts won't they get the oil on their hair, and then in their systems?  It doesn't sound good....

My friends who raise goats use cattle panels and T-posts for fencing.  It is a flexible fencing system in that it can be moved should the need arise.  They only have 5 acres.  Is this an option you've considered?
Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    2
I'd love to go that way, but the price of t posts did not follow steel prices when they came back down, and just at the moment I've got time n no money
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14861
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I think you would not want that oil near your soil.  I also think you don't want that oil headed for your ground water.

I've heard a lot of good reports on charring the post ends.

sign up for my daily-ish email / rocket mass heater 4-DVD set / permaculture playing cards
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
seeing as how t posts last so long, you might be able to find them as salvage..check by putting an ad in the paper or on craigslist for your area

we used to have a gob of them around here extra..but we ended up using them in the concrete floor as reinforcement under our wood furnace
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1777
    
    9
Great idea Brenda....  There is also freecycle groups on yahoo where you can place requests for items that others no longer want.  Most of the scrap building supplies I get have been through freecycle.
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3082
Location: woodland, washington
    
  52
since you're short on cash and long on time, plant a hedge.  there are plenty of species that will do well in a hedge and not get so tall as to cast much shade.

I've been fond of Darwin's Barberry/Michay (Berberis darwinii) for some time, and am even more so now that mine have started producing delicious berries.  really tasty and really spiny.  in ideal conditions it might get 12 feet tall, but mine have stayed under 6 feet even though I'm staking them to make them taller.

plenty of other good hedge species are easily trimmed to feed critters and keep them shorter.  many of them are easily started from seed which will also save money.


find religion! church
kiva! hyvä! iloinen! pikkumaatila
get stung! beehives
be hospitable! host-a-hive
be antisocial! facespace
Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    2
not sure I could get a hedge to survive the goats and be tight enough to stop baby goats
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
The two biggest concerns in motor oil are benzene (un-burned gasoline blown around the piston rings; benzene can dissolve in the oil & not boil out too quickly) and heavy metals from the slippery alloys of the crankshaft etc. The old-timer probably used motor oil that had absorbed a fair amount of tetraethyl lead, to boot. At any rate, this is all worse than creosote.

The gick in recently-made pressure-treated wood is much less bad. The arsenic-based stuff was banned in the US maybe a decade ago. I agree, though: I wouldn't want goats in close contact with it.

My suggestion would be to talk with arborists about what trees they're taking down, and offer to take the waste off their hands. If someone's black locust is being removed, it could become fence posts that don't need any treatment.

Another preservative treatment, less toxic, is water glass. It can be made it from sand or crushed glass and ashes or lye or washing soda...but it isn't very expensive, anyhow, and is good stuff to have around for all sorts of uses. It's often sold as concrete sealer.


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    2
humm, unlikely to be any benzine in the oild out of my diesels as I'm up to about 85% biodiesel overall this year for motor feul so much fine ash makes it into the oil that its thicker coming out than it is going in. tis a good idea to see if I can make a couple friend in the tree removal biz, but I donno people are so recycling aware here around portland that its hard to get anyones trash for free and my place is kinda out of the way
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3082
Location: woodland, washington
    
  52
there is a lot of black locust around the Portland (Oregon, yes?) area.  folks planted it to grow fence posts a while back, and there's still a lot of it around, even in the city.  there's much more in the surrounding areas.  I would offer some of mine, as I'm not too far from Portland, but I've got plans for it.  once you learn to recognize it, though, you'll start seeing it everywhere.  let a landowner know that it's a terrible invasive species but you'll gladly do them the favor of removing it.  you might end up with some free rot resistant fence posts.

and for what it's worth, though it might take a while for it to grow in, I'm quite sure you could grow a hedge that would stop goats, even babies.  fortunately, you can put up a fence while you're waiting for the hedge to mature.  hopefully by the time the fence needs work again, the hedge will be ready.
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
put in your regular fence posts..and plant a seedling tree on the OUTSIDE of the fence wire along and beside each of the fence posts..my guess for quick growing would be red pines, but others would work well..

the regular fence and posts and wire will protect the seedlings from the goats while they grow up..and then when they are tall enough fasten the wire to the trees..

a red pine will grow tall enough to become a post in about 3 or 4 years..

i would place my posts the typical 8' apart and put the trees on the center between them at 4'..that would make them 8' apart for future use.

this year the red and white pines have a lot of cones so you might be able to plant them from seed if you can harvest some cones.

i'd buy  the cheapest posts i could and get them in that way..and then plant the trees between, by the time the posts rot the trees will be ready to take their places.

if you are worried about the goats eating the trees they can be put in a circle of wire fencing.., but if you use wire with spacing small enough to restrict the goats mouths from eating on the other side of the fence, you can build quite a fenceline of trees very quickly
Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    2
two more dumb questions about plantin trees to replace the fenceposts
1) if the fence is attached to the tree will it rise up and have to be moved down the trunk as they grow
2) will the tree grow to surround the fencing that is attached to it like it does a nail

long term problem 2 could become a bit of an issue when it was time to move the fence cause croscut saws don't much like running into metal i the middle of a tree
                            


Joined: Aug 07, 2010
Posts: 271
Keith,
  Get some old scrap pieces of boards 2x4's, etc and nail them to the trees, then fasten the wire to the boards. That way they don't grow into the tree and you can remove them if/when needed.

  re: goat fencing.. there's an old saying that to confine goats, you need a fence tight enough to hold water.    There's a lot to that saying....

  Your goats will more than likely reach through the fence and debark the trees.......

  Have you considered doing fencing out of pallets, topped with a hotwire and also running one near the bottom (you can get a solar charger, yes.. I understand cash flow.. mine is negative... just something to think about).

  There is an old fence on some property I looked at about 5 years ago. The fence consists of wood spaced about 4 inches apart, with wire twisted to hold it all together. Don't know how true it is, but I was told that fence is more than 70 years old and was built for goats. The wood is split tamarack (larch).

 
                            


Joined: Aug 07, 2010
Posts: 271
Oops, Sorry, previous post should have been addressed to Brice.
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
Plants grow at the tips, generally speaking. A nail in the side of a tree will stay at the same height, unless the soil settles.

I agree that some wood as a standoff between wire and tree will likely protect the tree in many ways, including probably reducing goat damage to the bark.
tel jetson
steward

Joined: May 17, 2007
Posts: 3082
Location: woodland, washington
    
  52
I think it's a good policy to avoid nailing things to trees.  likewise with attaching fence to trees.  it's too easy for the tree to eat these things, even though the intention is to remove the metal before that happens.

a workable alternative is to tie bailing twine in a loop around the tree with a lot of slack and run a hot wire through that.  it's unlikely to last long enough for the tree to catch up to the slack, and it's easy to cut or untie and move elsewhere.

if you don't have the trees there already, though, this isn't going to solve your immediate fencing problem.
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
fence does not grow UP the tree ..as trees don't grow taller from the bottom but the top..but the tree trunks will grow outward..sometimes a great deal..depending on the tree..

that is why i suggested a long lived fast growing tree like a red pine..as it will be large enough to fasten the fencing to in a very short time..but yes..it will eat a staple or nail that will become embedded into the bark..i wouldn't wrap wire around the tree as it can strangle the tree and kill it..but if you use an electric fence insulator on a long screw..it likely won't get eaten by the tree so easily as a staple or nail..use quite a long screw and leave some room for the tree to grow ..if you say use a 3" screw..then you'll be able to leave 2" beyond the tree for the trunk to grow toward the insulator.

and the screw can be backed out as the tree grows as well.

most trees LIKE iron so the rusting screw won't damage the tree ..but don't go with easily damaged trees like aspen or birch or wild cherry..they won't live long enough to be worth growing up for fence posts
Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    2
well this place grows cedar well and aspen is considered a weed in these parts even though it makes some real pretty lightweight lumber without all the pine sap so I'm thinking either of those would work well for the northern fenceline I'll start looking for black locust for posts for the southern side an I think I'll be good after a while
Dave Miller


Joined: Jun 08, 2009
Posts: 394
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
    
    9
I haven't tried it on fence posts, but I lately I have been using melted wax as a wood protector.  The main water repelling ingredient in products like Thompson's Water Seal is wax.  I used to make my own water sealer which mixed wax, paint thinner and varnish.  It worked really well, better than Thompson's because I could put more wax in than they do.  After that I tried just straight melted wax and that works really well but I have not found a way to paint it on with a brush.

I first tried melted wax on the top of a cedar gate, then on a couple of bat houses, and lately on a cedar bird feeder.  I used a heat gun to melt the wax into the wood but I think you could also do it with wax shavings on a hot day.  When the air temperature gets above about 85 the wax melts a little and soaks even further into the wood.  It also darkens the wood a bit.  Over time the excess is absorbed or drips off.  But I've never tried it for ground contact use.

Regarding T-posts, I bet you could offer to remove a fence for someone in return for the posts and fencing.  I volunteer at a nearby wildlife refuge which was used as a dairy farm for many years.  One of the least popular volunteer projects is to remove the old fencing.  Most of the posts and even a lot of the wire still have many years of life left in them.  Most of the posts and wire just get recycled.  It's sad because there are hundreds of them.  I would start with craigslist, then just contact local landowners who probably have fences they no longer want (Nature Conservancy, USFWS, etc.).
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1777
    
    9
Great Info!

I have used wax on rope to protect it from the elements.  I just buy a big block of it and rub it on.
Never thought about wood, I'm glad you suggested that.
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
don't count on aspen for fence posts..they are very short lived and will die quickly if their bark is damaged..such as wire or fasteners.
Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    2
cedars it is then or perhaps given that the north end is pretty shady I could try to get some hemlock seedlings (wonder if the goats would leave the hemlock alone (mine love cedar bark)
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
both hemlock and cedar seedlings are easy to find if you have some adults on your property..and easy to transplant..good choice..deer will eat the bottom branches off of either here
                        


Joined: Jul 07, 2010
Posts: 508
Another plan for a fence is http://handbooks.btcv.org.uk/handbooks/content/chapter/72

I clipped some young willow last week with an eye to rooting/planting the cuttings and then  trying this but must have done something wrong as all the cuttings are looking very unhappy at the moment. (Willow because it usually grows really fast here,..our choices not as wide as in a more forgiving climate.. I knew what it was and is free ).

However, I doubt this would hold in goats. After having to rescue kids who managed to get their heads stuck in field fencing we finally decided the only really cost effective way to fence goats in any amount of space more than about a couple of acres was with electric fencing, but maybe our goats were more determined than some.
Brice Moss


Joined: Jul 28, 2010
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
    
    2
most especially not young dwarf goats, I spent a lot of time this spring looking for the little tiny gaps under the fence that my babies were crawling through
fortunately the usually came straight up to the front porch and called me to let them in cause I bottle raised them in the living room, but next years babies will be dam raised
Jim Dickie


Joined: May 14, 2010
Posts: 21
Apparently Borax is a good wood preservative, but you have to boil the wood in a solution.....an old bath tub maybe?

http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/device/devices10b.html
                        


Joined: Jul 07, 2010
Posts: 508
What a fascinating link!  I think that you could likely use a  metal 55 gallon drum to  heat the  posts..you could reverse them if you wanted to do the whole post, or weld two drums together if one was not quite deep enough...put it in a ditch so as to be able to get the posts in and out?  What do you do with the solution afterwards though..in earlier times contamination of soil and watershed was seldom much of a consideration. Would this be a problem? Apparently borax is very alkaline...
Jim Dickie


Joined: May 14, 2010
Posts: 21
Borax would likely corrode a steel drum, but an old enameled bathtub (there are always a few free for the taking at most landfill sites) wouldn't corrode.  There are a lot of good links on the Journey to Forever site.
                        


Joined: Jul 07, 2010
Posts: 508
here  http://www.borax.com/pdfs/dist/Profile_Borax_Decahydrate.pdf ; it says that borax is used to prevent oxidization and is a corrosion inhibitor. so I would think that for the amount of time it would be required a metal drum would likely work.
In our neck of the woods, gathering things from dumps is illegal and people use old bathtubs for watering stock so barrels are much more accessible than used bathtubs. I wouldn't want to use the bathtub for anything else after cooking fenceposts in it . Also, many bathtubs these days are acrylic based..I wouldn't want to try to cook anything in one of them by mistake.
                                  


Joined: Jun 01, 2011
Posts: 6
Location: Eastern Oklahoma
Black Locust and Osage Orange trees make great fence posts. Neither of them need any preservatives 'cause they will last for more than 40 years just as they are.

Mike


"o not mess with the forces of Nature, for thou art small and biodegradable!"
                                


Joined: Jun 03, 2011
Posts: 1
Hedges need help: 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedge_laying

                                          


Joined: Jun 05, 2011
Posts: 19
Just a few thoughts from my experience.  Used burnt oil to paint rough sawn lumber on round pen. Not posts in ground. did fine and held the wood longer than untreated. Horses didnt chew either.  wood wicked it up. Folks use cedar posts around here but only the center aromatic part is rot resistant.  Have to use a post big enough to have good bit left after the outer ring fades away. we also have reclaimed railroad ties here that are used for posts.
Jack Shawburn


Joined: Jan 18, 2011
Posts: 230
There is a treatment system for Bamboo called the Boucherie Treatment .
It involves attachingg a manifold to the ends of culms that are connected to a
small pressure vessel filled with Borax solution.
The vessel is pressurised with a simple foot or handpump to 25psi.
The Sap in the bamboo is replaced with borax solution.
I was thinking that neem oil could then seal the ends...

Maybe it could work on other species?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4MFWh1ANMQ

http://abari.org/treatment
Sam White


Joined: Mar 08, 2011
Posts: 204
Location: Caerphilly, Wales, UK
Sweet chestnut fence posts will last a long time in the ground without any treatment.


"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14861
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I wish to be clear:  I've allowed this thread to remain because the subject line has a question mark in it.  I fully expect the responses to the question to be a resounding "no".  If anyone feels that the answer could be "yes", then i think you are in the wrong forum. Perhaps homesteadingtoday.com would be a better fit for you (excellent forums - and open to the use of motor oil to preserve fence posts).

These forums are going to start with "I am not going to use used motor oil anywhere near my soil.  nor will i use creosote or any of the commercially available "treated lumber.  Rotten fence posts are preferable to these toxins.  And, at the same time, I would like to dip into the permies.com knowledge pool to get more life out of this wood."

 
 
subject: motor oil to preserve fence posts?
 
Similar Threads
need tips for building paddock fence
Concrete posts for fencing?
"Commercial" Hugelkultur beds to eliminate chicken feed costs/imports
fence with living trees and poles between the trees
oily questions
cast iron skillet 49er

more from paul wheaton's glorious empire of web junk: cast iron skillet diatomaceous earth sepp holzer raised garden beds raising chickens lawn care flea control missoula electric heaters permaculture videos permaculture books