For a job as seemingly simple as knocking in a fence post, there is a remarkable number of features, options, adjustments and accessories to be found on what was once the humble ‘post knocker’.
Some developments are aimed fairly and squarely at safety; and a good thing too, because driving in fence posts has caused too many injuries and deaths over the years through risky operating procedures or inattention.
The job is still not fool proof but machine designs and special attachments that allow posts to be driven in upright while keeping the operator well clear of a falling heavy weight can only be a good thing.
Otherwise, features added to the bog-basic post driver are all aimed at speeding up the job ormaking it easier, mainly by providing hydraulic adjustments to accurately position the mast without having to repeatedly re-position the tractor.
At the top end, the range of adjustments available is remarkable – sideshift and backshift to position the mast perfectly; two- or four-way mast angle adjustment to get a post upright when the tractor is sitting on a dramatic slope; and slew adjustment of the entire machine to work in different positions or to edge the mast into an awkward corner beside an existing fence or wall behind a tree.
There is also more scope for mounting a post driver on a tractor loader or telescopic handler, a mini digger or a full-blown excavator. And among fencing contractors looking to put up a long run of fencing every day, self-propelled vehicles, usually tracked to cope with rough terrain, to carry posts, accessories and a driver are also more commonplace.
The most common means of driving posts is to raise a weight guided by a mast of fixed length or with a telescopic configuration and let it drop – ideally on to a steel post cap to prevent impact damage.
On all Twyman drivers from Kidd FarmMachinery the weight is tapered and runs in a slot in the mast to ensure the driving forceis applied down the centerline of the stake.
A telescopic mast, such as the design used on all Bryce Suma postdrivers, can be used to vary the drop height and impact force to suit different ground conditions – and it reduces overall height for transport.
Single or double rope pulleys are most commonly used, operated by either a long direct-pullhydraulic cylinder or by a short cylinder actuating a pulley arm. Cross Agricultural Engineering takes anovel approach to lifting the 450kg weight on its post drivers – a hydraulic motor raises it on a chain; a quick-flow return allows the hammer to fall.
The Post Basher from Brown’s Agricultural Machineryis at the other end of the technology scale. It drives inposts with a ‘hammer action’ as the tractor’s three-point linkage is raised and quickly lowered.
One advantage of this approach is that it can drive posts 3.35m (11ft) away from the tractor – so maybe over a ditch, for example; and at £1125, it’s also the cheapest ‘power driver’ on the market.
But it’s also a one-off implement these days as most operators have moved on to easier-to-use mast machines.
The simplest and lightest post drivers have a basic mounting frame to position the mast centrally on the rear three-point linkage. Lack of offset means thetractor must be driven along the centre-line of the fence run or backed up to each post and positioned accurately to create a neat fenceline.
There are also heavier duty models using this format, including the Post Hammer from Brown’s and the King Hitter Series 2 fromMcArthur Cyclone, both of which have a compression spring to propel the hammer on its downward journey, and theShaver HD models Appin-Wood Machinery.
The Bryce Suma Powershift range has a telescopic mast and double pulley system to extract adjustable driving force from a 3.5m or 3.7m maximum drop height; the telescoping section also reduces transport height.
While the most basic-spec models of this type have limited vertical adjustment of the mast using the top link connection and a turnbuckle, hydraulic versions addconvenience and often more pronounced adjustment.
The Vector Powerdrive Model 2, for example, has a back frame thatcan tilt the mast left or right while the top link moves it forward and back. The 2+ version goes further by mounting the mast on a pin that allows up to 30deg of left/right movement from vertical.
Positioning the post driver mast to one side rather than centrally makes it easier to work along a line of posts laid out ready for hammering in, especially ifthey need to go in tight up against a hedge or along the edge of a bank.
Mounting the mast on a frame in a permanently offset position is the approach taken for the Brown’s Post Hammer and King Hitter drivers, the Vector PowerdriveModel 4 and all Bryce Suma Agri and Profi heavy duty implements.
Quantock Farm Machinery has the fixed offset PD3 with the option of a telescopic sideshift frame that pushes the mast beyond its transport position tucked behind the tractor’s rear wheel.
This facility also appears on the front- or rear-linkage mounted WRAG Penna; in fact, most manufacturers of offset drivers have this facility as a standard or optional feature because of the added flexibility it brings.
The backshift facility available on several Bryce Suma post drivers, the P22 Contractor from Protech Machinery and the Vector Model 4 further helps in fine tuning the mast’s position without having to hop on and off thetractor when working alone.
The latest version of the Suma has another trick up its sleeve, though; with Quadshift, the entire implement can be rotated about a swivel joint on one of the lower linkage mounting arms to move the mast through an arc of 1100mm.
In combination with the other adjustments, this can allow the mast to be manoeuvred into tight field corners close to walls, hedges and trees – obstacles thatmight otherwise force a return to the old two-man hand-held post rammer.
With a telescopic section added to the slewing arm that holds the post-driving mast on ‘swinground’post drivers, a single mechanism provides backshift when themast is positioned to the rear of the tractor and sideshift when it is worked to one side.
It’s a handy feature for added versatility on the Brown’s Giraffe, Parmiter Swing Round from Shelbourne Reynolds, on Protech’s Pseries, the Quantock PD and Twyman Swinground machines.
This adjustable extending arm is also standard on the WRAG Powerswing driver, which as the namesuggests, comes with a hydraulic cylinder to move the mast so that posts can be driven in anywhere behind or to one side of the tractor with the arc through which themast can be moved.
On the Powerswing, this extends to 120deg from the fully offset position; others with hydraulic slew are typically limited to 90deg or can work through a full180deg by using twin slewing cylinders.
Manually positioned versions, which cost a little less and have fewer hydraulic demands, can also work through a 180deg arc, although usually in steps determined by the pin and hole locking positions.
Loader & Digger mounted
Some post driver designs lend themselves to being mounted on a tractor loader, mini excavator or telescopic handler for added versatility when fencing in awkward locations. On a telehandler or mini digger, it is often quite feasible to drive posts across an existing fence or a ditch.
Simple versions of the ‘nodding donkey’ style post driver, which uses a much shorter hydraulic cylinder to lift and lower the hammer using a pivoting arm and pulley, are also available for this approach – including those in the Protech and WRAG productranges, the Parmiter line-up, and the Twyman range.
Apart from its recently introduced compact tractor driver,Chalke Valley Engineering specialises in loader-mounting for its Postpuncher implement. This driver remains unique in having its hammer fully enclosed in a tube, primarily for safety.
High frequency vibration is an altogether different approach to getting fencing stakes intotheground; it’s reckoned to be quieter than the thump, thump, thump of a regular design and can be quicker, too.
Autoguide Equipment has developed a smaller version of its industrial-scale Post Master industrial unit to fit on to a minidigger or similar host vehicle.
This one is powerful enough to drive in stakes without a point (including gate posts andstrainersif a pilot hole is drilled first) and to extract posts insituations where an existing fence needs to be taken down or moved.
Contractors who erect fences for a living – and especially those working on difficult terrain– are turning to self-propelled machines for driving in posts.
The Post Master from Autoguide Equipment is a based on a Morooka tracked carrier with a rear-mounted Parmiter Professional post driver mounting frame and hydraulic slewing arm, and a mast-mounted hydraulic vibrator.
Bryce Suma’s Fencemaster is also based on an ex-dumper converted into a bespoke machine with a shortened chassis and purpose-made rear linkage to carry a regular Suma Profi post driver.
Mid-mounting the post driver on Bryce’s smaller Powershift model is said to ensure good weight distribution and stability when travelling over rough terrain, while semi-mechanical drive should permit positioning adjustments without having to rev the engine unduly, as can be the case with hydrostatic drive.
Protech and Vector also build bespoke self-propelled tracked fencing machines, which in common with the others have duplicate remote vehicle controls alongsidethose for the post driver to allow convenient one-man operation.
Falling Weight Type
Central mast machines
|Make||Model||Driving mechanism||Mast Adjustment side-to-side/ fore-aft)||Price (ex VAT)|
|Browns||Post Hammer Standard||226kg spring-propelled weight||man/man||£2,985|
|Browns||Post Hammer Hydraulic||226kg spring-propelled weight||hyd/man||£4,185|
|Bryce||Suma Powershift HD1 Basic||400kg or 500kg weight on telemast||man/man||POA|
|Bryce||Suma Powershift HD1||400kg or 500kg weight on telemast||hyd/hyd||POA|
|Bryce||Suma Powershift HD2||400kg or 500kg weight on telemast||hyd/hyd + 300mm sideshift||POA|
|Chalke Valley Engineering||Postdriver Compact||85kg to 125kg weight||man/man||£1,400|
|Doyle||Model 1||300kg to 400kg weight||man (opt hyd)/hyd||POA|
|King Hitter||Series 2||250kg spring-propelled weight||hyd/hyd||£4,700|
|Parmiter||Standard 180||180kg weight||man/man||£2,988|
|Protech||P30||Up to 210kg weight||man/hyd + 500mm sideshift. 300mm backshift||£1,900|
|Quantock||PD1 Mini||60kg or 90kg weight||man/man||£1,940|
|Quantock||PD2 Standard||140kg, 170kg or 200kg weight||man/man||£2,085|
|Twyman||TWY 175C HL||120kg tapered weight in slotted mast||man/man||POA|
|Twyman||TWY 175 HL||200kg tapered weight in slotted mast||hyd/man||£2,150|
|Twyman||TWY 170 HL Inline||200kg tapered weight in slotted mast||hyd/man||£2,225|
|Vector||Model 1||380kg weight||man/man||POA|
|Vector||Model 1+||380kg weight||hyd/hyd||POA|
|Vector||Model 2||400kg weight||hyd/hyd||POA|
|Vector||Model 2+||400kg weight||hyd/hyd||POA|
|Vector||Model 3||400kg weight||hyd/hyd + 600mm sideshift||POA|
|WRAG||Thrift||200kg weight||man/man (hyd opt)||£2,350|
|WRAG||Hector||300kg weight||man (hyd opt)/man||£3,445|
Offset mast machines
|Make||Model||Driving mechanism||Mast Adjustment side-to-side/fore-aft)||Price (ex VAT)|
|Browns||Post Hammer Side Shift||226kg weight||man/man/sideshift||£4,395|
|Bryce||Suma Agri||400kg weight on telemast||hyd/hyd/600mm sideshift/300mm backshift||POA|
|Bryce||Suma Agri Deluxe||400kg weight on telemast||hyd/hyd/600mm sideshift/300mm backshift||POA|
|Bryce||Suma Profi Supreme||400kg weight on telemast||hyd/hyd/600mm sideshift/300mm backshift||POA|
|Bryce||Suma Profi Max Supreme||500kg weight on telemast||hyd/hyd/600mm sideshift/300mm backshift||POA|
|Bryce||Suma Profi Max Magnum||500kg weight on telemast||hyd/hyd/600mm sideshift/300mm backshift/ 1m slew||POA|
|Fairbrother King Hitter||Series 3 Deluxe||250kg to 270kg weight||hyd/hyd/400mm sideshift||£6,800|
|Fairbrother King Hitter||Series 3 Deluxe Hinged Mast||270kg weight||hyd/hyd/400mm sideshift||£7,400|
|Protech||P22 Contractor||250kg to 350kg weight||hyd/hyd/800mm sideshift/opt 500mm backshift||£5,400|
|Quantock||PD3 Side Mounted||140kg, 170kg or 200kg weight||man/man||£2,255|
|Quantock||PD3 Side Mounted Hydraulic||140kg, 170kg or 200kg weight||hyd/hyd||£3,070|
|Quantock||PD3 Side Mounted Sideshift||170kg or 200kg weight||man/man/sideshift||£3,565|
|Quantock||PD3 Side Mounted Sideshift Hydraulic||170kg or 200kg weight||hyd/hyd/sideshift||£4,380|
|Rabaud||Tilting Mast Post Driver ‘Stock Breeder’||140kg weight||man/man (hyd/hyd opt)/500mm sideshift||£3,645|
|Rabaud||Vibrescopic II Simple||hydraulic vibrator||hyd/hyd||£9,875-£12,960|
|Rabaud||Vibrescopic II ‘Stock Breeder’||hydraulic vibrator||hyd/hyd/500mm sideshift||£11,250|
|Vector||Model 4 Contractor & Contractor Extreme||400kg or 500kg weight||hyd/hyd/600mm sideshift/300mm backshift||POA/td>|
|WRAG||Penna||200kg or 300kg weight||hyd/hyd/sideshift||£5,495|
|Make||Model||Driving mechanism||Mast Adjustment side-to-side/fore-aft/tele/slew)||Price (ex VAT)|
|Browns||Giraffe Manual||200kg weight||man/man/man 5-place 180 deg||£3,275|
|Browns||Giraffe Manual – Hydraulic Tilt||200kg weight||man/man/man 5-place 180 deg||£3,535|
|Browns||Giraffe Hydraulic||200kg weight||man/hyd/hyd 180 deg||£4,990|
|Browns||Giraffe Contractor Deluxe||280kg weight||hyd/hyd/tele/hyd 180 deg||£9,575|
|Parmiter||Swing Round 180||180kg weight||man/man/man 180 deg||£3,557|
|Parmiter||Swing Round 180 Contractor||180kg weight||hyd/man/hyd 90 deg||£4,605|
|Protech||P120||120kg weight||man/man/man 5-place 180 deg||£2,300|
|Protech||P120||120kg weight||man/man/man 5-place 180 deg||£2,300|
|Protech||P180s||210kg weight||man/hyd/man 180 deg||£2,500|
|Protech||P200s||210kg weight||hyd/hyd/hyd 120 deg||£3,650|
|Protech||P300s+ Contractor||250kg to 400kg weight||mhyd/hyd/opt 800mm tele/hyd 120deg||£6,395|
|Protech||P500 Contractor||400kg to 500kg weight||hyd/hyd/800mm tele/hyd 120 deg||POA|
|Quantock||PD4 Swing Round||170kg or 200kg weightweight||man/man/man 180 deg||£2,820|
|Quantock||PD4 Swing Round Hydraulic||170kg or 200kg weight||hyd/hyd/man 180 deg||£3,635|
|Quantock||PD5 Swing Round All Hydraulic||200kg weight||hyd/hyd/hyd 180 deg||£4,485|
|Quantock||PD5 Swing Round All Hydraulic Sideshift||250kg or 350kg weight||hyd/hyd/hyd 180 deg||£6,860|
|Quantock||PD7 Contractor Sideshift||250kg or 350kg weight||hyd/hyd/tele/hyd 180 deg||£9,155|
|Rabaud||Turbofrap 200 Pendulum Rotary||160kg weight||suspended/hyd 180 deg||££6,115|
|Twyman||TWY 185 HL Swinground||200kg tapered weight in slotted mast||man/man/man 180 deg||£3,525|
|Twyman||TWY 200 HL Swinground||200kg tapered weight in slotted mast||hyd/hyd/hyd 180 deg||£3,880|
|Twyman||TWY 200 T HLSwinground||200kg tapered weight in slotted tele mast||hyd/hyd/tele/hyd 180 deg||£4,675|
|Twyman||TWY 250 HLSwinground||250kg tapered weight in slotted mast||hyd/hyd/hyd 180 deg||£3,995|
|Twyman||TWY 300T HLSwinground||250kg tapered weight in slotted tele mast||hyd/hyd/tele/hyd 180 deg||£5,145|
|WRAG||Powerswing Basic||200kg or 300kg weight||man/man/hyd 90 deg||£3,100|
|WRAG||Powerswing Basic Powertilt||200kg or 300kg weight||hyd/hyd/hyd 90 deg||£4,875|
|WRAG||Powerswing Commander X||200kg or 300kg weight||hyd/hyd/hyd 90deg/sideshift||£5,895|
|WRAG||Powerswing Opus||200kg or 300kg weight||hyd/hyd/tele/hyd 90deg/sideshift||£8,995|
|WRAG||Powerswing Diadem||400kg weight||hyd/hyd/tele/hyd 90deg/sideshift||POA|
Loader & Digger machines
|Make||Model||Driving mechanism||For mounting on||Price (ex VAT)|
|Autoguide equipment||Mini Postmaster||Hydraulic vibrator||1.5-3t mini digger||£POA|
|Bryce||Suma Powershift HD1 Basic||400kg or 500kg weight||3pt, loader, telehandler, digger||£POA|
|Bryce||Suma Powershift HD1||400kg or 500kg weight||3pt, loader, telehandler, digger||£POA|
|Chalke Valley Engineering||Postpuncher PP2M||85kg weight inside 1.5m steel tube||loader, telehandler, excavator, mini digger||£2,650|
|Chalke Valley Engineering||Postpuncher PP2 Excavator||105kg weight inside 2m steel tube||excavator, mini digger||£2,850|
|Chalke Valley Engineering||Postpuncher PP2 Loader||105kg weight inside 2m steel tube||loader/telehandler||£3,150|
|Chalke Valley Engineering||Postpuncher PP3 Excavator||200kg weight inside 2m steel tube||excavator, mini digger||£3,550|
|Chalke Valley Engineering||Postpuncher PP3 Loader||200kg weight inside 2m steel tube||loader/telehandler||£3,750|
|Chalke Valley Engineering||Postdriver Compact||85kg to 125kg weight||3pt compact tractor, mini digger||£1,400|
|Doyle||Model 1||300kg to 400kg weight||3pt,mini digger||£POA|
|Doyle||Vibro||Hydraulic vibrator||digger from 5t||£POA|
|Parmiter||Loader 180||180kg weight||Loader, telehandler||£2,603|
|Protech||P1||up to 60kg weight||mini digger, compact tractor loader||£POA|
|Protech||P10||up to 120kg weight||mini digger, compact tractor loader||£1,400|
|Protech||P18+||up to 210kg weight||mini digger, compact tractor loader||£1,600|
|Protech||P220+||300kg weight||loader, telehandler, 5t+ excavator||£2,500|
|Protech||P200s||210kg weight||3pt, loader, telehandler||£3,650|
|Twyman||TWY 175 HL||200kg tapered weight in slotted mast||3pt, loader, digger||£2,150|
|Twyman||TWY 170 HL Inline||200kg tapered weight in slotted mast||3pt, loader, digger||£2,225|
|Vector||Model 2+||400kg weight||3pt, loader, telehandler||POA|
|Vector||Model 5||400kg weight||telehandler||POA|
|Vector||Model 6||200kg weight||mini excavator to 2.5t||POA|
|Vector||Model 7||200kg weight||tractor loader||POA|
|WRAG||Hector||300kg weight||3pt compact, mini digger, loader, telehandler||£3,445|
|Make||Model||Driving mechanism||For mounting on||Price (ex VAT)|
|Autoguide equipment||Postmaster||Hydraulic vibrator||Marooka tracked vehicle||POA|
|Bryce||Bryce Powershift HD180||400kg weight||mid-mounted on 46hp tracked vehicle||POA|
|Bryce||Bryce Fencemaster HD180||400kg or 500kg weight||rear linkage-mounted on 120hp tracked vehicle||POA|
|Protech||P22 Tracked Contractor||250kg to 300kg weight||rear linkage-mounted on tracked vehicle||POA|
|Vector||Powerdrive||400kg weight||rear-mounted on 120hp tracked vehicle||POA|