Taege post drivers
Most people assume all post drivers are the same. They push the pointy thing into the hard thing, making fencing faster and less arduous – I guess to the untrained eye this is correct. But, if you’re a Taege customer, the switch to a Taege post driver has shown there is a point of difference.
This month, we head to Taege HQ in Sheffield, Canterbury, where Taege Engineering has been manufacturing its highly sought-after post drivers for 12 years, and like other machines Taege produces, they are constantly being developed with some key innovations to make life for operators much easier.
There is genuinely very little to say about these post drivers: they are built bloody tough and everyone who buys one either buys another to keep up with their increased workload or only ever needs one because they just don't break – it is that simple.
For our fencing contracting foe, with the unenviable task of smacking posts in the ground all day long, every little time saving counts. Not only is time a big factor for contractors but safety is paramount, particularly when working in some of the more adventurous places in the country. When working in these remote locations, reliability is the main drawcard: when you're in the middle of nowhere, the last thing you need is a breakdown or, even worse, an injury from an unsafe driver.
As I tested the "contractor"; model, with most of the fruit on it, I will concentrate on that and if this is too highly spec'd for your needs then bear in mind that there are two farmer and two contractor models available, with the ability to add as many extras as you require from each of the respective "base" machines. Standard features for the contractor model
- 5-lever control bank
- Monkey ram with 50mm shaft
- Hydraulic toplink with 300mm travel
- Hydraulic mast tilt
- 200mm side shift
- 270kg monkey
- 13mm wire rope
- 4m mast
- Adjustable legs
- Spike cap for wooden posts
- Hydraulic end-shift 170mm
- Side-shift upgrade to 300mm travel
- Hydraulic spike 90mm with optional turner
- Extra bank on controller (up to 12 depending on spec)
- Hydraulic fold down mast with optional 4.6m mast
- Monkey upgrade to 320 or 385kg
- Independent legs, hydraulically adjustable
- Heavy-duty side mount with up to 600mm of sideways travel
As you can see from the features listed, you can pretty much get all you could possibly wish for as an option on a Taege post driver, with the ability to have 12 levers giving you hydraulic adjustment for every movement you'll ever need to push in a post – unless of course you find yourself upside down, in which case post driving will then become less of a priority for you.
If you are a farmer or contractor who prefers the side-mount option, then all these features are available but facing a different aspect (not upside down).
The features that I was most impressed with were the rock spike/ turner and the end-shift, both of which were first designed by Taege and have since been patented. First, the end-shift is specifically designed to remove the need for an extra man in the tractor, so the post driver becomes a one-man operation. This is a particular preference of contractors, as they don't have to jump in and out of the tractor. The end-shift feature also moves up to 170mm, which can overcome some wayward backing or can be used to straighten the odd post that gives you the slip.
The hydraulic spike turner is something I have never seen before because, in Taranaki (the good country), we use something called a "spade" to dig our post holes. Before you say it is because we are backwards, inbred or behind the times (none of which is true), to be fair there are some places in "Taradise" that I certainly wouldn't want to use a spade or even your stock-standard post driver for that matter. This is why I was very impressed by the rock spike/ turner idea that Taege has come up with.
Mike Warwick is a fencing contractor in the Sheffield area and kindly lent us the machine for our test. He loves how easy it is to use and the ability to place posts straight and true into some of the more challenging countryside in the Canterbury region. Speaking of challenging, Chris Daley, who runs Fencetec Contracting (a family business) in Te Anau, is in some of the toughest country that Taege machines work in and it just eats it up. This is all thanks to the rock spike/ turner and the durability of the Taege machine. Daley can smash the rock spike into glacier-type rocky soil first, without damaging anything, then smack a post in directly after this and achieve excellent results every time. If you want to see some impressive post driving, watch the video of Daley at work – he is lightning fast and he had only had the new driver for half a day when the video was shot.
For any operator of a post driver, the key danger is the monkey above your head, not the one on your back. This is why I am a huge fan of the spike turner, which then eliminates the need for you to be under the monkey at any stage – not a nice feeling, particularly with the 385kg beast. The spike turner has your hole already moulded for you; it is just a matter of smacking the post in. And because the hydraulic bank is located far enough away (unless you have go-go gadget arms), it eliminates the desire to even attempt this.
Another safety feature I like is the monkey lock, which is a simple lever mechanism to stop the money coming down the mast at a certain height if you need to go underneath to straighten the post, for example.
The folding mast is another clever little feature, not so much for the fact that it folds but because it is a separate remote which has to be folded from inside the cab. This is to stop the risk of you accidently folding it and ending up with a new monkey-shaped sunroof in the top of your cab – you know you’ve had a bad day when that happens! The only downside to this is you may forget to fold it and accidentally take out the power lines. I'm sure it wouldn't have been the first time that this has happened, but maybe a lock on the bank lever could get around this.
The beauty of these machines is the basic-spec base model for all four variations, and the ability to spec them up to your requirements. This keeps costs down and will also appeal to a wider customer range.
Taege machines have a reputation of being built to last and these post drivers are no exception. Taege is also constantly talking to customers, listening to feedback on how its products can be improved or adapted for different terrain. The challenge facing Taege is the need to keep obtaining new clients, as their existing customers never need to buy another machine! Not a bad thing, though – I'm sure you won't get any complaints out of either camp.
- Ability to spec the machine how you want it
- Four different models to appeal to a wider market
- Just about everything can be hydraulic
- Up to 12 levers on the hydraulic bank
- Rock spike/turner is ideal in rocky conditions
- Monkey lock for safety
- 170mm end-shift travel reduces the need for an extra person in the tractor
- Mast must be folded from in the cab, good for avoiding a new sunroof but bad if you forget to fold it and take out power lines
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