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Forum topic by Ian Elliott posted 12-01-2015 05:51 PM 658 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Ian Elliott

3 posts in 622 days


12-01-2015 05:51 PM

Topic tags/keywords: fence fence posts oil motor oil treating pine poplar sawmill cheap

So I’ve heard all the stories about the old timers using motor oil to treat their fence posts. I’ve heard that this can make the posts last for decades. But I’ve also heard all the worries about it harming the soil on the land.

I’m a young college student that cant afford to go buy a bunch of treated lumber or chemicals to treat my own lumber. But I do own a sawmill and I have a large amount of pine and yellow poplar trees that are being cleared.

I want to put a split rail fence around my house but have very little money to spend on it. My question was; If I treat the posts with motor oil, but then put them in concrete when setting them into the ground, will the concrete keep the oil from harming the soil.

I’ve also heard of using tar but heard it could be more expensive that just buying treated lumber. The oil sounded to me like the cheapest and easiest option but my house runs off of well water and I don’t want anything to be contaminated.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks


15 replies so far

View Knothead62's profile

Knothead62

2581 posts in 2428 days


#1 posted 12-01-2015 08:06 PM

I would think the oil would not allow a good bond between the concrete and the wood. I was raised on a dairy farm in central Ohio. Locust posts were what I remember being used at that time.

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HerbC

1592 posts in 2326 days


#2 posted 12-01-2015 08:43 PM

Not a good plan.

Do you have Eastern (Aromatic) Red Cedar available? If so, post containing mostly heartwood will last quite a long time without the use of the concrete. And if you’re going to make rail fences, the cedar can be split by hand which would add to the rustic look of the fence.

Good Luck!

Be Careful!

Herb

-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!" http://lumberjocks.com/HerbC/blog/17090

View Woodbum's profile

Woodbum

732 posts in 2532 days


#3 posted 12-01-2015 08:46 PM

Opinions about installing fence posts are so varied as to border on confusion. My best luck with posts has been to put concrete in the hole under the post to close up moisture infiltration, make the hole twice the diameter of the post, and slope the concrete cap so that water drains away from the post. I have fence posts that have lasted 20+ years. This has worked for me, in MO, KS and OK where rain, drought and hot and cold weather hit the extremes. As to motor oil sealing the post, the oil would have to soak all the way in to make a difference. Sounds like an old wives tale or rural legend to me; but then again, what the hell do I know except from personal experience.

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

View bonesbr549's profile

bonesbr549

1176 posts in 2534 days


#4 posted 12-01-2015 08:57 PM

As to the fence posts, yes it works. When my dad would do an oil change we would be tasked as kids to go fiind a fence post and put the oil filter on top of it and it would drip down the sides of the post. Don’t know if it worked but all the farmers around there did it. However most of our fence posts were from locust tree’s and thats the hardest dang wood I ever saw. They will last a long long time, but I would not use oil. We had someone rent our farm and we discovered several 55 gal oil drums full of old motor oil on the property dumped that was a big problem. I was told that one quart of oil can contaminate up to an acre of land.

There are methods and better solutions out there, check with your local farm-n-tractor or whatever farm supply you have they will give you some ideas.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

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Ian Elliott

3 posts in 622 days


#5 posted 12-01-2015 09:01 PM

I’m almost positive I don’t have any locust or Cypress. I know those are good and very rot resistant. As far as the cedar I have some, but not very much. I could make a fair amount of posts with cedar. If I could find someone in the area willing to give some up or trade, that would work.

Also, I’m not very worried about the rails, just the posts. I’ve heard Poplar is not rot resistant at all, so I wouldn’t use it for posts, but I would probably use it for the rails. I’ve cut a good bit of poplar on my sawmill of different sizes and most was left out in the weather for months on end and never rotted or warped. Some boards cupped but not much.

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BurlyBob

3695 posts in 1733 days


#6 posted 12-02-2015 03:37 AM

I what I learned from a local contractor made a lot of sense. He’d put a couple of inches of concrete in the bottom of the hole, let it dry then a couple of inches of rock, the post and pour in the concrete. The rock will allow moisture to seep away from the post and help prevent rot.

Woodburn is also right about sloping the concrete down and away from the post.

If the post is encased in concrete it will hole water and deteriorate much faster. When you have to replace, it becomes a much more difficult task.

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Tedstor

1625 posts in 2100 days


#7 posted 12-02-2015 03:49 AM

For what its worth- Highly doubtful the pittance of oil that might leech into the soil is going to cause any sort of meaningful harm. I pour petro-based tar all over my driveway every couple of years….....weeds and grass always manage to sprout right through the cracks in no time.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

17676 posts in 3143 days


#8 posted 12-02-2015 03:56 AM

My dad used to soak cedar fence posts in Penta, then plant them directly in the ground. Southern Idaho didn’t get a lot of rain, but they were exposed to flood irrigation to some extent. I just saw some of them last week that have been there for over 50 years.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Rick M's profile

Rick M

7934 posts in 1847 days


#9 posted 12-02-2015 05:19 AM

Don’t use motor oil, it’s not going to work, at all, not even a little bit and it poisons the ground water. I grew up on a farm and never heard of anyone using motor oil on a fence post. To kill mange on a dog, absolutely, kill weeds in the driveway, sure; but not on fence posts. We used locust trees, they last for decades. Where my FIL lives they use cedar. Untreated wood in contact with soil will rot. Keep it out of soil and provide good drainage and it will last some years.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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josephf

125 posts in 1564 days


#10 posted 12-02-2015 05:29 AM

in days of old you would use heavy timbers . start a big fire and burn the bottoms section of the post .the part that goes in the ground .the charcoal will protect the wood .I recall someone telling me he used this method on a pole barn .do not recall the details .

View emart's profile

emart

422 posts in 2095 days


#11 posted 12-02-2015 06:16 AM


As to the fence posts, yes it works. When my dad would do an oil change we would be tasked as kids to go fiind a fence post and put the oil filter on top of it and it would drip down the sides of the post. Don t know if it worked but all the farmers around there did it. However most of our fence posts were from locust tree s and thats the hardest dang wood I ever saw. They will last a long long time, but I would not use oil. We had someone rent our farm and we discovered several 55 gal oil drums full of old motor oil on the property dumped that was a big problem. I was told that one quart of oil can contaminate up to an acre of land.

There are methods and better solutions out there, check with your local farm-n-tractor or whatever farm supply you have they will give you some ideas.

- bonesbr549


locust doesn’t even need treatment to last 30-40 years. I’m also not a fan of putting motor oil on the ground.

I have a fence in my yard made from cheap pine that was put in the ground with concrete. The cheap stuff will not last forever but my fence managed to survive for 20 years with nothbing more than concrete in the hole and some cheap white paint. I should also mention this was part of the yard that gets 2ft floods every fall and spring along with all the regular rain you expect in western washington.

-- tools are only as good as the hands that hold them https://www.custommade.com/by/emeraldcrafts/

View joey502's profile

joey502

487 posts in 985 days


#12 posted 12-02-2015 07:26 AM

You could murder the trees you have, saw and sell that lumber. Take the profits to buy lumber that will fit your needs. I know this may not be ideal but it would allow you to buy what it the best available option for your project.

View tomsteve's profile

tomsteve

394 posts in 686 days


#13 posted 12-02-2015 12:16 PM

soak ends in oil. wrap a plastic contrators garbage bag around it and drop it in the hole.
want even more protection use roofing tar. coat up to soil line.

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

2326 posts in 1764 days


#14 posted 12-02-2015 12:37 PM

Don’t put fence posts in cement. When they rot, which they will eventually, you’ll kick yourself when you’re using a breaker bar to dig out that 50 pound lump of concrete. Just put gravel in the bottom so water drains away from the bottom.

View Ian Elliott's profile

Ian Elliott

3 posts in 622 days


#15 posted 12-02-2015 04:27 PM

Thanks for all the help guys. I think ill find as much cedar as possible and set them in the gravel and see how that works. If they do rot in a few years, I shouldnt have a problem by then buying what I need to do it properly.

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