non-electric Gate opener plans??? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I'm looking for a way to open/close a 12 ft. gate across our driveway, without having to jump in and out of the van all the time. I watched the movie "Babe" with the kids, (again) and remembered the way the farmer had his gate "rigged" to close automatically. Does anyone know of where or how I can do this pretty reliably?

-- Homesteadma (, June 07, 2001


Necessity is the mother of invention. I would have to watch the movie again very carefully, but if I remember right, there is a counterweight, cable, pully system and fly wheel. Don't know how it resets itself, or if this was just a hollywood gimmick. Try searching for "Rube Goldberg"

Let us know if you find anything. I have some gates I would like to use this on.

-- Skip Walton (, June 07, 2001.

Dear Homesteadma, if someone was to ask what the most important item on a farm is, I would have to say the gates. We have re-built several with many more to work on but none open themselves. I will be watching this thread for hints. Good luck. Maureen

-- Maureen Stevenson (, June 07, 2001.

In my neck of the woods here in Texas, the gates leading into the ranches have solar units. You keep a garage door opener on your visor (or wherever) to open/close the gates.

Or you can get real down country. A rope, a bucket of sand. You pull in slowly, pushing the gate with your vehicle and the bucket lowers after you get thru. Nah, it could mess up your vehicle. Works well, tho, with walk throughs!

-- ~Rogo (, June 07, 2001.

I have a friend that has one of the battery operated gate openers that was previously discussed. All it is that opens the gate is an actuator (same as on a large satelite dish)powered by a 12 volt battery with a solar cell to recharge the battery. I believe it is controled by the same type of curcuit board as in a garage door opener. They run about $550 in the farm cataloges.

There is another simpler gate that people use in west Texas that I have seen, Though it might cost about as much. These are push gates or "Bump"gates that use cables to suspend the gate on a single pole that is about 8 ft.taller than the top of the gate. The cables run to the middle of the gate from a crossbar mounted at the top of the pole form a "V" causing the gate to lift and swing open as a vehicle pushes on the gate. There are no hinges on these gates, were the hinges should be located there are 2 loops mad of steel bar around the main pole that slide up and down the pole. Once you start through, you don't want to stop. Because the gate will start to close due to the weight of the gate fairly quickly and it centers on the two cables. They can really do some damage on a vehicle if you aren't fast enough. I hope that my decription of this gate is helpfull. Rory

-- Rory S.E. Texas (, June 07, 2001.

If the gate is to be repeatedly opened and closed automatically you will need some sort of power input. Solar is possible, wind, water also. Maybe the weight of the approaching vehicle. I suspect it would be quite difficult to 'rig up' any sort of contraption without resorting to commercial units, which would probably be electric and maybe solar. Some of the problems to be solved include being able to open the gate from both sides and having it swing back into a closed position secure against the bum itch of an Aberdean Angus and the occasional gale force winds. On our farm we didn't bother with such things.

Just dig a pit, the width of the road, say 8 feet across and maybe two feet deep. Cover the pit with rails, cross ways, (old railway iron is good) with, say, 2" inches between each rail. Stock won't cross and humans have to tread carefully but vehicles have no problem, you don't even have to slow down and the rattle will give plenty of warning of visitors!

If you just want to keep stock in and get a warning of visitors you could position chained dogs each side of the road which is done in some parts of NZ where sheep graze pastures that are not completly fenced.

-- john hill (, June 07, 2001.

I remember a chain pull system on a nearby farm. Dont remember how it worked though.

-- Gary (, June 07, 2001.

There is a method used on dairy farms around here using the saloon door type of hinge; that is a gentle "V" shape piece of metal mounted on the posts with a single braced pole across both sides of the opening. You just drive through the carpet padded horizonal poles and they return to the closed position by themselves. This will only work if your livestock does not challenge the gate so observe rule one: never feed or handle stock at the gate. If the idea is not clear go to the hardware and look at saloon hinges.

-- mitch hearn (, June 07, 2001.

Lots of great ideas!

Twenty four years ago, I had just bought a piece of land, and people kept tresspassing while I was trying to get started building my house. I wanted a gate, but like everyone else, detest the hassle of getting in and out of the car (twice) each time I wanted to go in or out. Also, it discourages the people I WANTED to visit me.

Being as how this was in my down and out in Orygun days, I improvised. I installed a gate post (a log, actually), which leaned a bit toward the road. Then I hung a gate (another log, actually, but a long, thin cedar log) on a stout hinge, bolted to the pole. Result was, the "gate" would swing shut by itself. I had to put a scrap of rubber from a tire to act as a "flapper" on the end of the "gate" The gate would swing shut until it hit the "flapper", at which point it would stop (in the closed position, (there was a second, short post on the other side of the road from the tilted post, against which the "flapper" would rest)

I'd just bump the "gate" with the front of Moby Dick (my old white Falcon van), then drive on through, and the gate would self close.

I doubt I had any friends who were worried about the paint on the front of their vehicles at that point, but if a person didn't want to give a little bump to the "gate", they could always get out and open it manually.

Obviously, this wouldn't keep a horse or cow, etc, from opening the gate!

Total cost: three or four bucks for the henge. Oh, I almost forgot; I had a scrap of used cable hanging from the top of the tilted post which supported the "gate" about halfway out it, or a bit more.

I've got an electric gate, now, on my new place, because there's too much traffic on this road, with three different families living up here.


-- jumpoff joe (, June 08, 2001.

Nah! Get stuck in, dig the hole, lay the cattle grid then forget about it for 50 years..

-- john hill (, June 08, 2001.

== Nah! Get stuck in, dig the hole, lay the cattle grid then forget about it for 50 years. ==

John, I've had cattle jump the cattle guard and seen horses who had to be shot for breaking a leg in the cattle guard. I just don't trust those dang things.

-- ~Rogo (, June 09, 2001.

Wow, I got some great responses to this question! Thanks to all who responded! I've put my 15 year old homeschooled son in charge of this project, and I'll let you all know in the near future how he decides to work it out. Thanks again! Jamie in TN

-- Homesteadma - Jamie (, June 09, 2001.

Check with your local extension service or USDA they should have a pamphlet with plans for the type of gate you want.I have seen this type of gate, it would have a rope-pull on both sides, hanging from an arm.

-- hendo (, June 09, 2001.

We had cattle grids everywhere and never any problem with horses, cattle or sheep. I will admit that one sow did seem to know how to get across but we never saw her do it. If there are any problem I guess it whould have to be related to the shape and spacing of the rails. We generally used light gauge railway track, mounted upright with about 1.5 to 2 inches between the flanges. The space between the rails would be wide enough for a horse's hoof but it wont go down between the flanges. Any cattle that will try an 8 foot long jump is going to give you trouble anyway and I cant imagine why they would try unless some idiot is doing a John Wayne on a horse.

-- john hill (, June 09, 2001.

You've all got me thinking now about a self closing gate with latch that is released by the weight of the vehicle, but not the weight of livestock. Or how about a lever that can be reached from the driver's seat to release the latch and "throw" the gate open until you pass through and pull another lever to release the gate and let is self close. Rube Goldberg, where are you????

Fortunately, our house is situate in front of the property and there are no gates between the house and road. All the gates are to each side and behind the house: Total of 27 gates on the five acres, not counting the ones inside the barn for stalls (five). Hung all but five myself, and built some of them.

-- Skip Walton (, June 09, 2001.

Okay guys, I have been doing some serious thinking today. I have decided it is no use having a self opening gate unless it is reliable and does not take much education of the vehicle driver(s). Also must be automatic in both directions. Not so delicate or complicated that you spend all your time fixing etc etc. Some folks dont like their pride and joy motor vehicles touching anything (I am one of those).

I figured two ways of powering it from the vehicles' movement. One have something like a plank on edge across the road so that the tyres push the plank over flat and operate the mechanism. Two weight of the vehicle.

I can not figure out a suitable mechanism for the plank idea so back to the weight.

Here is the idea, sorry it will probably cost a few dollars.

Install a big plate or even a wooden platform across the road and extending about 4 feet each side of the gate way. The platform is supported on two corners (on one side of the road) by resting on some sort of pivot, maybe a length of steel pipe would be ok. On the other side of the road is the gatepost with a horizontal rail pivoted so that it can lift up like railway crossing barrier. Hanging from this rail is the gate. The top horizontal rail extends past the gate post pivot for a foot or so. A chain is attached to the platform and to this extendion of the top rail and is tight enough to lift the platform a couple of inches.

When the front wheels of a vehicle go onto the platform the chain pulls the gate up into a near vertical position. Vehicle drives through and when the rear wheels leave the platform the gate drops down again.

Possible problems, the platform seems pretty big (maybe expensive) in my mind. The gate will need to be very light weight, maybe tubular steel frame with wire mesh. Cattle might learn to stand on the platfork and open the gate but maybe you could add something like flags, bells or rattles that would scare them off as the gate starts to move.

Just my idea for today :-)

-- john hill (, June 10, 2001.

Good Answers, I just saw 'Babe' and marvel at the contraption too. I have several spring loaded small gates and have taught my Jack Russell Terrier to jump off the 4 wheeler and pull the rope to open the gate, then it closes it self and she gets back on. Both my Border Collies know how to do this too. So get a smart dog and you could probably just use a counterweight to shut the gate. Good Luck, Jill

-- JillSchreiber (, June 11, 2001.

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