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rock jack  RSS feed

 
master steward
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I've described this several times now, so I thought I would use the mighty internet to make things clearer:



(source)



(source)



(source)


The first and last image are the ones I am used to for a rock jack. The middle rock jack is mighty fancy!
 
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Around here, most of them are a ring of woven wire fence, concrete mesh, or cattle panel--think compost ring filled with rock.

Mighty good way to turn the problem into the solution!
 
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It is so strange to me that these are called "rock jacks" and not "rock posts" or something more fence-post-like.
 
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I've never seen one of these. I assume that they are used where sinking posts would be difficult or where the fence may be moved.

If a little log were placed beneath it as a fulcrum, the weight of the rocks could keep the wire uniformly tight in all temperatures. Wire expands and contracts with temperature fluctuations and can look sloppy. I often see drooping deer fences. This would keep them up.
 
pollinator
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Sam and Jesse were up to some rock jack making in anticipation of mass fencing here at Wheaton Labs.

Here, Exhibit A!
DSC01933-filled-rock-jack-(1).JPG
[Thumbnail for DSC01933-filled-rock-jack-(1).JPG]
Rock jack
 
Olenka Kleban
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3 brothers, just made and waiting to be loaded up with some weighty, weighty rocks.
DSC01907-3-freshly-made-rock-jacks-no-fill-(2).JPG
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3 freshly made rock jacks
DSC01913-can-be-moved-when-not-filled.JPG
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They can easily be moved when empty (free of rocks)
 
Olenka Kleban
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The filled jacks are pretty-well immovable.
DSC01967-Jesse-rock-jack2.JPG
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Jesse jack!
DSC01949-rocks-in-the-rock-jack-(detail)2.JPG
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The real weight-- ROCKS
 
Olenka Kleban
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...and these are our wonderful rock jack makers: Sam & Jesse.
I believe Sam has an informative 'rock jack' video coming up, so stay tuned!
DSC01982-the-rock-jack-makers.JPG
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Makers- Sam and Jesse
 
gardener
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My Dad used to make something similar on the Rhode Ranch. This is a picture of him and one of his stone corner posts (taken from the book One Hundred Years of Grassland - I can't find my original atm)

corner-post.jpg
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:It is so strange to me that these are called "rock jacks" and not "rock posts" or something more fence-post-like.



I wondered about this too.

It turns out: one of the many meanings of the word "jack" in my Miriam-Webster dictionary is:

something that supports or holds in position: as in (a) an iron bar at a topgallant masthead to support a royal mast and spread the royal shrouds, or (b) a wooden brace fastened behind a scenic unit in a stage set to prop it up.



A rock jack is a brace of wood held down by rocks for the purpose of supporting fence wire and holding it in position, so it (sort of) makes linguistic sense.
 
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I have watched the ones built with wire mesh around here where constant wet tends to rot the wood posts. They remain stable as long as the wire fence. I can see the advantage of the wood ones whre the fence is planed for moving from time to time.
 
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Hmm, we might like to copy that. How are the logs/boards secured, eg at that upper point? Are they nailed in? (Seems unlikely with those split logs) Or resting on spikes in the vertical, or what?
 
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Rebecca Norman wrote:Hmm, we might like to copy that. How are the logs/boards secured, eg at that upper point? Are they nailed in? (Seems unlikely with those split logs) Or resting on spikes in the vertical, or what?



That was what I was going to ask. I can't tell from the images.

Thanks!
 
steward
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Looks like they are holding those together with a 60d (give or take) spike to me. That is the usual for hoding together stuff that size. Maybe some iron wire for reinforcement wouldn't be a bad idea as well.
 
paul wheaton
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I think it is screws.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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It might also be useful to note that these are test rock jacks, made on flat ground, with a flat base. Base camp is quite hilly, so it will likely become more typical that these are built in place, with each rock jack's tripod-like base angled to match the slope at its spot.
 
paul wheaton
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We are working on building 100 feet of fence using rock jacks and woven poles/branches/etc.

We were thinking that we would like to make several paddocks with this technique. Click on the "thumbs up" for this post if you would like to come out and do this for, say, a weekend.
 
pollinator
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I am interested in seeing this process.

This sounds like a sweet way to start up a permanent fence/hedgerow. Set up the jacks with the woven poles and plant hedgerow plants on one side. You could remove the fence once the plants got established, or just grow it into the hedgerow.
 
pollinator
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I'm intrigued.Never seen these before. We have easily dug, volcanic soil but I'm guessing that rock jacks are used where there are many rocks and it's too hard to dig holes for posts??
 
pollinator
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Something like a rambling rose could provide you with fragrant flowers, a bee magnet, and awesome razor wire. My dog doesn't go through it. I don't go through it. Even with leather gloves. I worry even in an MC jacket.
 
Landon Sunrich
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Here's a picture of mine which I have been battling, because given enough time, they will try and conquer the world.

http://www.permies.com/t/34320/plants/Hydra-thoughts-rambling-rose

I pulled about a dozen long (20 foot?) whips off from my pruning of this one just the other day. When I hacked it back the first time it probably would have done a half acre perimeter. But that's a guess.
 
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My rocks here come in a variety of sizes. My thought is to make the round wire type of rockjack as in one of the earlier pics - and have larger rocks on the outside/bottom, choke them down, but put posts WITH hardware extended through them (nut/washer on post) with metal buried inside a large gravel interior throught the rocks.
Need to replace the post? Spin the nuts, pull and replace the post. Will find out if i need to take heavy wire or metal strapping and pull the post tight enough (may have to bury it also?) to swing a gate... put a wheel on the outer end.
By using a variety of stone sizes, less sorting, better holding of the metal i will weld to the other side of the bolt and bury in the fencing - held rock mass. i'm thinking about 3 feet in diameter should suffice....
Improvements? Suggestions?
 
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Here's some more pictures of rock jacks. Even a rock jack gate! I took these pictures S.W. of Pendleton, OR on HWY 74. Along that highway we probably saw at least 75 rock jacks!
DSCN5650.JPG
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DSCN5651.JPG
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DSCN5649.JPG
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I was walking around the back side of base camp and found something that looks like an old rock jack but with only one support.
KIMG0320.jpg
[Thumbnail for KIMG0320.jpg]
 
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This seems like one of those things that can evolve in place - as bracing for a corner or gate post, then weight to stabilize the bracing - or be planned out as a mobile unit.

Similar posts are used for movable horse-jumps, with 4 legs at the bottom either as an X with the post butted in on top, or as a sunwheel (each leg butting up against the inside face of another, so you can use 4 short pieces around 1 square post. Could be done with 3.).

I like how these ones get most of the wood up above the snow and ground damp. Could even set the feet on big flat rocks in the landscape, or well-drained gravel areas, if you want to be clever and postpone rot almost indefinitely.

-Erica
 
Olenka Kleban
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The first rockjack installed on Base Camp.
DSC03231-_morning_rockjack.JPG.png
[Thumbnail for DSC03231-_morning_rockjack.JPG.png]
 
Olenka Kleban
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assembly
DSC03161-_Sam_the_rockjack_builder.JPG.png
[Thumbnail for DSC03161-_Sam_the_rockjack_builder.JPG.png]
DSC03160-assembly.JPG
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DSC03156.JPG
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Olenka Kleban
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this fence was a test to see what wattling is like with pine saplings.
this is the kind of fence we're thinking of building around most of our paddocks.
DSC03586-_test_fence.JPG.png
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DSC03591-_test_fence.JPG.png
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DSC03592-_test_fence.JPG.png
[Thumbnail for DSC03592-_test_fence.JPG.png]
 
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Rock jacks rock!

Sam has been teaching me to make the jacks and the waddle fence, which has been awesome, thanks Samicus! Here are some photos of the first section which just got started.

image.jpg
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Sam the man!
image.jpg
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Me pretending to be in charge
 
Simon Johnson
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So are you guys burying posts as well as using rock jacks for the fence? What's the reasoning behind this?

Looks great! That is going to be a nice fence one all is said and done.
 
Seth Peterson
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Hey simon,

We are not burying posts. The posts are held in place by the waddle fence, which then 'attaches' to the rock jacks to hold everything in place. It's actually a bit tricky to get started, but as you weave in more waddle it becomes more sturdy. But, at first, the poles are just sitting on the ground, one person holds them in place while the other person puts the weaved branches in. Does that make sense?

Seth
Permie chef
 
Simon Johnson
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Indeed. Thanks for clarifying Seth.
 
paul wheaton
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Between yesterday and today we came up with this idea for a fence variant.

Note how the pole wood tapers a LOT. This means that this wood does not weave very well. The little, skinny part weaves good - but it quickly gets thick and not-so-weave-friendly.

The key is that we need things to be strong and solid at the bottom, but it doesn't need to be so formidable at the top.

wood-fence.png
[Thumbnail for wood-fence.png]
 
Penny Dumelie
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Are you going to weave smaller branches among the top of the poles above the top horizontal plank/pole, or will you leave it as shown?
 
paul wheaton
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Penny Dumelie wrote:Are you going to weave smaller branches among the top of the poles above the top horizontal plank/pole, or will you leave it as shown?



Yes. We will leave it if it works. And if it doesn't, we will fiddle with it. And fiddling with it could include some weaving stuff.
 
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I love the woven fence idea. I like the rustic idea. But it's also neat (as in tidy) well tidy-er. I have tried to do it on a really small scale like 8" high with long twig's. But I have Michigan soil and no rocks, I actually have to buy rocks if I want them.

I am listening to the Winter Update from the Labs Part 1, I have to go to work soon so I'll have to listen to the other one later. I am trying to get an idea of what to do when I leave here. One idea was to help my brother on his land but he doesn't know about Permaculture either. So I'm trying to learn as much as I can. I am unattached and no children, he is married with kids and grand kids. So I have more time to do the studying. He is a large equipment operator, big earth mover stuff. He and his son have been doing that work most of their lives. He runs those machines as easily as we run our fingers and toes. He says he becomes the machine.

Any way I thought if I learned everything I could, then I could help him with his property in Missouri. But right now he would have to support me so I am learning from Michigan where I still have a roof over my head. After listening to you guys for the last couple weeks I come to the realization that I am paying out way too much for heat and electricity. and my house amounts to a big wooden box with a slab floor. Not efficient at all. But I have hope after listening to how you are heating a tipi with a Rocket Mass Heater. Living in the city though has some problems.

Really I just wanted to say I like the fence Idea. I'm going to try again around my little garden this year.

By the way, do you have an age range for Gappers? I mean how old would be too old?

Evelyn
 
paul wheaton
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Some rock jack pics that Evan took of the fence that Evan and Nick built.



 
paul wheaton
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I saw another rock jack the other day:

rock-jacks.jpg
[Thumbnail for rock-jacks.jpg]
 
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I have been wrestling around with fencing ideas in my hilly area where I have more rock then I know what to do with, and after finding this thread I am going to sleep good tonight! I love the idea of the gabion  fence pillars, is a concrete footer necessary or will the pillars settle appropriately from all of its own weight? The old B&W photo is exactly what I am thinking for corners and middle supports, and tee posts inbetween them every 10'.
 
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I do not understand the purpose of them?

I have built enough fence to know that a person has to start with strong corners, gate posts and anchor points every 330 feet, but you can get that with an H-post design. They would be much faster to put in, and last a heck of a lot longer. With all that weight on a span or two of split rail, located close to the ground where rot would occur, it would look like the rock jack post would fail after only a few years.

In terms of placing posts in rock, even in solid bedrock, a post is easy to install. Just use a generator to power a small hammer drill and bore a hole in the bedock. With a wood drill bit, bore a hole in the fence post and then insert length of half inch rebar in the bedrock, then the fence post. The tension of the fence keeps the post in place, and the pin to the bedrock keps the fence post from kicking out. If the fence ever needs to be moved, just bore a new hole and reuse everything again.

If there is soil, I never bore a hole. I wait until the ground is wet, here in Maine right after the frost gooes out, start a little starter hole with a lining bar, then using sharpened posts, start them into the holes. To pound the posts all the way home, I fill the bucket of my tractor with soil for extra weight, then pound the posts in with the bucket.
 
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