Last post for nasty gates

30 Aug, 2000 03:06 PM
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THE ubiquitous wire gate is both the boon and burden of every Australian farmer ‹ cheap to install and maintain but a nuisance and a danger to open and close. Now, thanks to an ingenious invention in steel by a farming couple from Victoria, problem gates are a thing of the past. The Gap Latch, developed by Geoff and Christina Emmerson of Horsham, has won a commendation in the 2000 BHP Australian Steel Awards for innovation in steel because it safely and easily allows the most stubborn and wide gates to be opened or closed. It eliminates the need for fiddly and ineffective wire ties usually used to fix existing gateposts and restores life to stiff old gates that might otherwise need to be replaced. For the first time, any wire gate can be easily opened and closed with one hand. The Gap Latch is an over-centering lever device that affixes to the top of a star dropper post with a specially designed hook. The lever makes light of heavy work, allowing the gate to be pulled tight and tensioned with minimum effort. "Although wire gates have been seen as a necessary evil, they are still the most used gate in Australian agriculture and, with the advent of wider machinery, in many cases, the only alternative," Mr Emmerson said. The Gap Latch system is extremely safe because it eliminates the hazard of flying wire gates that tend to spring towards the operator when tension is released. With the Gap latch in place, the operator keeps control at all times over the gate's movement. Even if the operator accidentally lets go, the gate will move in a controlled arc away from the operator and remain hooked to the strainer post at all times. "It closes itself down under its own tension," Mr Emmerson said. "The lever works past the pivot point and it locks itself into position." Two add-on products, the Equaliser and the Super-Gap, give the Gap Latch system the versatility to address any width gate. The Equaliser tensions the bottom and top gateposts equally. It is easy to place the bottom of the star post in position to close the gate. "It is made out of high tensile steel which will flex under tension, creating a large spring at the end of the gate which gives a very smooth closing action," says Mr Emmerson. The Super Gap is a double wire gate that can open to more than 20 metres, and is ideal for fencing around hay bales, holding yards and lane ways requiring machine access. The versatility and safety of this gate system is matched by its reasonable price ‹ around $28 (ex GST) for the basic model, up to $130 (ex GST) for the full system. This is the Emmersons' first invention, and already has the stamp of approval from farmers and local authorities who are using it. It is available at country field days or by contacting the Emmersons directly on emmos@telstra.easymail.com.au

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