Traditional stone gateposts last forever. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the metal gate hangings that are set into them. These will eventually rust away. The following notes give some ideas and hints on how to replace the metalware.
Removing the old fittings on a gatepost
If you are really lucky the old fittings will be attached with through-bolts (which pass right through the gatepost). In this situation it is simply a matter of removing the old fittings, then finding and bolting on some replacements.
However in the vast majority of cases, holes will only have been drilled part way through the post and the fittings held in place by pouring molten lead around the bolt or tang. By far the easiest way of removing the old fitting is to heat the metal with a blow-lamp until the lead has softened, then the corroded metal can be pulled out using large pliers or tongs, or it can be prised out. If you need to loosen it by tapping it from side to side, be careful not to use too much force – granite posts in particular can crack surprisingly easily. Also, it may be stating the obvious, but do remember to wear heat resistant gloves when undertaking this task. The metal will retain its heat for a long time.
Securing the new fittings to your gatepost
Once you have removed the old fittings and acquired suitable replacements, you have several options when it comes to fixing them onto the gatepost:-
1. You can use the molten lead method. Although traditionalists may favour this approach, it is only practical if you first remove the gatepost and lay it flat so that you can pour the molten lead into the hole – and have it stay there! So this method is not recommended.
2. Using an SDS drill and suitable bit, you can extend the hole right the way through the post and use through-bolt fittings. This is a good option, provided the post is not too thick, making drilling impractical. A suitable drill and bits can be hired for around £20 per day.
3. In cases where the old fitting has broken off flush with the surface of the post and you are unable to remove it (or don’t want to), then a surface mounted hook on a plate will do the job. If you are replacing the bottom hook using this method, then drill 4 x 8mm holes and secure the plate with 10mm x 80mm ‘self tapping’ coach bolts (you’ll find them under the heading ‘multi-monti’ in the Screwfix catalogue). The forces exerted by the gate mean that the bottom hook is being pushed in towards the post rather than pulled out, so this fixing method is adequate. However, the top hook is constantly being pulled away from the post, so the fixing needs to be as secure as possible. Fixing the bolts using resin is one possibility. Through-bolts is another. Do not be tempted to use anchor bolts; as the collar expands when the bolt is screwed in, there is a risk that the stone will crack.
4. The fourth option is to make, or have made, a strap or collar of galvanised metal strip. This fits right around the post, the two ends overlapping and being bolted together or better still, being turned out at right-angles to the collar forming tabs which can be drilled through and secured with a bolt. The hook is welded to the collar. This method is a good alternative for the top hook and tends to be the approach favoured by farmers who do the job themselves. Any agricultural engineering workshop or blacksmith will be able to make up the collar and weld the hook on for you for far less than the price of removing and replacing the stone gatepost.