Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Using Elasticised Cotton for Fences - Some Lessons Learnt

Around the end of 2013, there was discussion in Ray Pilgrim's Bylong blog concerning the used of elasticised or stretchy thread as a solution for power lines and fencing wire. After Ray's posts had been published, I purchased a roll of this product, but never let it be said that things happen quickly on Philip's Creek. It took me another year before I finally motivated myself to try the thread, not so much for power lines but rather as fencing wire.

In part, my lethargy was due to the frustrations expressed in an earlier post when I attempted to do the same thing with very fine wire. (http://philipscreek.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/a-waste-of-time.html. The elasticised thread was certainly easier to use than wire and as such, didn't trigger quite the same reaction as previously. However, it did reconfirm the lesson that I learnt previously, do the fencing early - the sooner the better after the basic landscaping has been applied and most definitely before power poles have been added. On parts of my layout this was not the case and there has been a power and telegraph pole repair program running in parallel with the fencing. On the newer section of Philip's Creek, there is nothing taller than the fence posts, so the work is a little easier.

By the way, the fence posts are combination of a special order of split timber posts from Kerroby Models mixed with some scratch built posts made by splitting a match in two.

At this time, I have competed some fencing around the local church and school and am now working on the fencing of the rail easement on the new and less cluttered section of the layout.

So what have I learnt from this exercise?

Firstly, this thread snags or catches very easily. The thread is very fine and seems to catch on almost anything from grass to rocks, power poles and certainly edges of buildings. Because it is very fine, it is difficult to see and its elasticity means that sometimes, you are not aware of a snag until the tension becomes so great that the thread pulls out back off the needle. It becomes a matter of judgement as to how much loose thread you want hanging around and getting snagged compared with how many times you want to tie off and start again. The photo opposite shows a point where one length was tied off and another started. Although it is fairly obvious in the close up photo, it is difficult to detect from a reasonable viewing distance. The white thread on the grey post also helps.

Secondly, make sure you have a fair amount of thread on the loose side of the needle eye. I lost count of the number of times that the needle was pulled through a fence post only to find that the end of the thread was left a centimetre or two back.

Super glue is your friend. I found that a touch of super glue on the thread as it looped around a corner fence post or bracing pole was sufficient to hold the thread in place after a short setting period. The photo opposite shows two strands in place, each with a loop around the corner post that has been glued in place.

The thread that I purchased was white. There had been some commentary in the earlier articles suggesting that a black thread was available but was not as good. However, I found that it was not easy to paint and the best solution was to run a black permanent marking pen along each strand of 'wire' once it was in place. This has worked well for most of the fence line but colouring in the vicinity of the fence posts is a bit sparse. More work is needed here.

Unless you have brilliant young eyes, some form of magnification is a must.

Finally, there is the question of how much tension should be applied to each fencing wire. I only applied a relatively light tension, sufficient to given the appearance of a well tensioned fence but, hopefully, not too much that it will lose its elasticity very quickly. I do expect some sagging over time but it should be with realistic limits.

Notwithstanding, the small dent that I have made in this project so far, there is still plenty to do, probably still about 2-3m of fences yet to be strung. No rest for the wicked!

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