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March 5, 2005

How To Build An H-brace

The first row of trellis is done! OK now the vineyard is starting to resemble, well, a vineyard!

After waking up this morning I had to explain to Gypsie that we couldn't play frisbee until later in the afternoon.

Got out to the vineyard about 9am and had to take care of some routine tractor maintenance. Three different oil levels to check (engine, transmission/hydraulic, front end drive) plus some grease fittings to lube. Also had to replace a few bolts that had come loose on the hole digger last weekend. NOTE - ALWAYS check every nut and bolt you can get a wrench on before putting a new piece of equipment in service. Don't assume that they have been torqued at the factory - sometimes they are just tight enough for shipping.

Once the tractor was ready the first task was to put in the remaining line posts and the two end posts. Got that done by about 1pm so decided to have a bit of lunch.

Next task was to build an h-brace at each end of the row. The h-brace is a common construction technique used for high-tensile fences, thus it is applicable for vineyard trellising. Here's a diagram of what it looks like - view image.

Step one is the insertion of the 5" brace pin into the end post. Basically just drill a 2.5" hole in the end post and the brace - view image. Once that is done the brace is inserted onto the pin, then set in place on the brace post and temporarily held by a clamp (after cutting to the proper length and set with the level.) While it's being held level an 8" hole is drilled through the brace post into the brace then the pin is hammered into the hole.

NOTE - this next step actually gets redone on March 12, but I left this entry as it was created to illustrate this is a never-ending learning process!

Next step is to install the brace wire. A length of high-tensile wire is cut so that it loops around the structure diagonally from ground level of the end post, up and over the 10" brace pin, and back where it is then crimped together to form the loop.

The last step is to tighten the brace wire. This is accomplished by inserting a stick into the loop then twisting and twisting repeatedly until the wire forms a very tight twist. This puts immense tension on the wire which draws the two posts together very tightly on the brace, creating a very stable structure.

Repeat for the other end and it's all done! Next thing to do was to install the fruiting wire, a length of 12.5 gauge wire exactly 42" from the ground. This is the optimal height for the Smart-Dyson trellis configuration which we have opted for. The wire is looped around an end post, crimped, then run along the entire length of trellis. At the other end, it is attached to a ratcheting tensioner, then cranked down until it is very tight.

Tomorrow I'll move over the remaining vines from last year's planting, but here's what it looks like:
Row one trellis done

Posted by Stephen at March 5, 2005 6:35 PM