Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mending gates in France (again)

I've written before about emergency repairs after the gates to our French holiday home broke and how I spent time doing more repairs to the gates in 2007, and when we arrived in Brittany in August this year I could see yet that more repairs were needed.

Previously I've built a new side gate and a large gate down the back of the 'second house' to separate the garden into two and make it easier for guests in the house that we currently rent out to keep an eye on their kids.

These new gates have all been built with 1" thick pressure treated timber so they won't rot for a while and even if they do, the gate's sufficiently thick and strong that it'll hold together for a good few years.

The existing gates to the gate, both the two sets of double driveway gates and the little single gate by the letter box, though are not so lucky. They're built of much thinner 1cm thick wood, I think it's pine, and they're slowly rotting away and falling apart.

I noticed that several down-bars on the single gate had rotted through as had the cross-bars and the whole gate was holding together by luck and friction on the screws ! Needed urgent repairs. The two double driveway gates had a few down-pieces that were in poor condition as well and one of the cross-bars was gone as well.

Off to the timber merchant to buy some more treated timber for the cross-pieces and start the lengthy job of cutting them to size and painting them up.

Painting the gate pieces takes ages as each piece needs to be primed and undercoated on two sides, then turned round and primed and undercoated on the opposite two sides, then it needs gloss painting again on two sides, turned round and glossed on the other two sides, and then the whole process repeated again for a second coat of gloss paint.

Of course I have to leave the wood to dry overnight after each coat of paint before I can do the other side so it all takes a week to do. Plus time taken to unscrew the old pieces and to rebuild and re-screw together the gates afterwards.

I have got slightly ahead of myself by building the down-pieces to all the gates in advance at home in England and as they're all the same size on all the gates I can saw, shape, sand, prime and gloss paint a pile of them in advance ready for when we next go over to France. These were easier as I had them prepared and all I needed to do was to screw the pieces onto the gates and job done.

When I put the gates together I re-discovered the old maxim of "measure twice, cut once" as one of the new large cross-pieces I'd made for the double gates was a perfect 10cm too short and so didn't now reach from the hinges to the centre of the gate -argh! A bit of judicious 'adjustment' (i.e. I bodged it with another bit of wood behind) and it was all finished just as it stated raining again.

So the gates are now all repaired again and we've a pile of broken gate pieces which will go for firewood. All the new timber will of course be OK but about half the gates are still made up of the original wood so I expect I'll have to be replacing and repairing some more gate pieces next year. I've been back to the timber merchant in England and am already making some more down-pieces ready for our next holiday ...

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home