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It’s super annoying when you spend money on things that don’t last. Even more-so when you don’t have a whole lot of money to begin with. Ever since we started this farming thing one particular product has really made me crazy… plastic fence insulators. At 50 cents and up each, these little pieces of molded plastic seem fairly expensive for what they are, but they’re even less of a bargain when half of them break after a hard winter. They’re difficult to move without snapping, they don’t stand up to any form of farm abuse whatsoever, and they cost way more than a little piece of molded plastic should.
When wayward goats forced me to re-do our fence this time around, I decided there had to be a better way. First of all I scrapped the pretty braided yellow fencing in favour of plain old 16 gauge wire. The braided wire might be more visible, but the actual wires in it are so thin that they break easily, and then you’re left trying to figure out exactly where that little weak spot is in your miles and miles of fence. That part was a no-brainer, but then I had to rethink those insulators. A quick internet search for a cheap homemade version left me very happy indeed. I already had everything I needed to make them so I set to work. The result is an insulator that can stand up to being whacked with a sledgehammer, it can be easily moved a million times, and best of all, these are probably going to outlive my fenceposts. Here’s a quick how-to – you’ll never buy insulators again.
What you need:
- Flexible 1 inch water pipe
- hack saw
- utility knife
- 1.5″ screws
- a rechargeable drill with a screwdriver bit to fit the screws and a drill bit slightly smaller than the screws
Stand the pipe on its end on a flat surface. Using the knife start at the hole in the center and cut straight down to the end. Do the same thing on the other side. Hold the pipe at the top so you don’t risk slicing your fingers off.
Install the insulator on the post with the cut end facing up. Put a screw through the bottom hole and fasten it to the post. Unless you have screws with really big heads be careful not to over-tighten or you may drive the screw head right through the pipe. I did that a few times; next time I’ll use different screws.
Slip your wire through the slit in the pipe so that it rests in the center hole. Put another screw through the top to secure the whole thing.
If your fence is temporary, you can probably get away with just putting a screw in the bottom of the insulator so you can easily pop the wire in and out. I found that these insulators are especially good in the corners, where standard fence insulators don’t handle the tension well.
By my calculations these suckers would cost about 6 cents a piece to make if you had to buy the pipe. Because the pipe was here when we bought the place, they cost me nothing! An hour of my time resulted in about 100 insulators, and with any luck that hour will be time well spent as I won’t have to replace them after another hard winter.
Take that, molded plastic insulator manufacturers.