Cover Story: FencePro Ultra G3 with RB800 rotator base

By: Brent Lilley, Photography by: Brent Lilley and Justin Bennett


Farm Trader spends some time with the latest FencePro release—the Ultra G3 with RG800 rotator base

I first spotted the new rotator base RB800 model at this year’s National Agricultural Fieldays® and was keen to see one in action.

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The opportunity came about soon with a visit to Campbell Bryce, owner of Hill Country Fencing, which operates in western Waikato between Tuakau and Huntly. During Farm Trader’s visit, Campbell and his team were building a new set of cattle yards near Glen Murray – an ideal situation to see just how well the manoeuvrability of this new model works in confined spaces.

Campbell purchased his new post driver around four months ago and it has been busy since. He was previously running side-mounted post drivers but was looking to upgrade to a rotating base machine for better versatility.

So far, Campbell has been impressed with all aspects of his new FencePro. It has proved invaluable on steep bulldozed lines where regardless of tractor placement, it is easy to put the post on the line behind the tractor.

The hydraulic legs give great stability and the telescopic reach makes it easy to reach down into steeper places with the tractor sitting in a safe level spot. The ability to put multiple posts in different spots without moving the tractor is a huge timesaver, especially when building yards, for example.

FencePro builds all their machines in a modular format. This means any of the FencePro post drivers can be fitted to any of their bases. For example, the Ultra G3 can fit straight to the three-point linkage to the reversible SM900 side-mount base or to the new RB800 rotator bases.

This also extends to many of the optional extras, such as auger kits and a rock spike that can easily be retrofitted to any machine, making them extremely versatile and allowing owners to upgrade as required.

Ultra G3

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The Ultra G3 model is fitted with a 4.8-metre folding mast. This gives plenty of height with around four metres from the ground to the bottom of the post cap (ideal with the extra-long heavy-duty cattle yards posts that were being driven into the hard compacted base at Glen Murray).

The folding mast has a hinge point that allows it to be easily folded hydraulically from the ground for a more manageable transport height. For added safety, a tap under the control bank is used to lock it in place, preventing any movement.

At the top of the mast, a single large diameter pulley creates a smooth path for the wire rope, reducing sharp angles and minimising wear. At the bottom of the mast, a 75mm heavy-duty greasable pin mounts it to a subframe, which, with the aid of a hydraulic ram, allows for 350mm of mast shift – handy to line the machine up and drive the post into exactly the right spot.

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Two further hydraulic rams that hold the mast upright also allow it to be tilted forward to back and side-to-side. All movements are easily controlled from the clearly labelled and easily accessed valve bank.

As standard, the Ultra G3 comes with a 300kg block, although, there is an optional 350kg block to drive posts in for the toughest ground conditions. The weight is lifted with a hydraulic ram and an 11mm wire rope through a triple pulley set-up, which is shielded with a steel guard for safety.

A heavy-duty 50mm post cap features a nylon block to transfer the impact of the falling block to the post, and a short spike on the bottom of the cap drives into the top of the post and holds it in place.

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Controls are all within easy reach of the operator with a bank of valves mounted beside the mast. Clear labels on each lever make it easy to learn the controls – handy on the machine tested that had 13 separate valves. The lever to control the block is slightly longer than the rest, making it easy to find, and a steel rail along the front of the levers is well placed to rest your wrist on when operating them.

Rockdrill

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If you’re fencing in some seriously tough country, then I would say a Rockdrill kit is a must-have for a post driver. It allows you to put a post in pretty much anywhere regardless of the conditions. The tungsten tipped augers will drill a pilot hole through rock or heavy clay with ease.

A hydraulic ram swings the Rockdrill in line, and then a hydraulic planetary drive motor with up to 1700Nm of torque turns the Rockdrill into the ground. As you would imagine, there’s a range of different rock augers to suit individual requirements and they are easily changed with a single pin coupling.

A long ram lifts the Rockdrill back out of the ground once the pilot hole has been dug. Conveniently, the holder for the Rockdrill features a chain locking point, which means it can be used to pull posts out of the ground as well.

A minor problem that I’ve seen on this machine and others in the past is that with the Rockdrill kit fitted in front of the mast, it can hit the back wheel and mudguard of the tractor when the machine is in the wrong position. It’s not a major when you know but this often catches people out.

RB800 rotator base

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The RB800 rotator base is the latest release from FencePro – an impressive unit designed to allow posts to be driven anywhere within a 180-degree arc behind the tractor. The main frame on the three-point linkage incorporates two legs with 500mm of travel, which are hydraulically lowered to create a safe and stable working platform.

A second subframe rotates around a central heavy-duty pivot point. This utilises a hydraulic ram and wire rope to give 180 degrees of rotation. The turner ram incorporates a lock valve that requires oil pressure to move, ensuring the machine will not creep or move unintentionally.

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A heavy counterweight is positioned at the opposite side to the post driver mast and rotates with the machine to ensure it always balances the weight of the mast. This makes it extremely stable on hills. Also incorporated into the frame is 800mm of telescopic movement for the mast, which allows impressive reach.

When combined with the arc, it gives coverage of almost six square metres behind the tractor. A lockable toolbox incorporated into the base is great to see, although, access is not always easy depending on the mast position. Storage space for tools, spades, etc. is minimal due to the rotation of the machine, but the team at FencePro is working on some holders.

Verdict

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The FencePro Ultra G3 on its own is a great robust post driver suited to those with a heavy fencing workload.

The simple design incorporates clever features such as the hydraulic mast shift and the 4.8-metre folding mast, which saves time and increases productivity, while the large diameter top pulley and heavy-duty wire rope reduce maintenance and downtime.

The most impressive thing, though, is the modular concept of the entire range. This allows you to pick and choose whichever mast in the range suits your usage. You can then couple it directly to the three-point linkage and decide whether you want side mount (just add the reversible side mount base) or if you need the flexibility of a 180-degree rotation (add the rotator base, followed by a rock spike or auger kit).

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It really is that simple to build the exact machine for your requirements. The RB800 rotator base is the last piece in the puzzle for FencePro and it has been designed with the same robust simplicity of the rest of the range.

FencePro Ultra G3 Features

  • Standard
  • 4.8m hydraulic hinge mast
  • Expandable hydraulic valve bank
  • Hydraulic top link and side tilt
  • 350mm mast shift
  • 300kg block
  • Height adjustable feet
  • 75mm mast pivot pin
  • External pressure relief valve
  • 11mm wire rope

Options

  • SM900 side mount base with 900mm of telescopic movement
  • RB800 rotator base 180-degree arc and 800mm of telescopic reach
  • 350kg block upgrade
  • Rock Spike Extractor System (on either side of the mast)
  • Hydraulic Rock Spike Turner
  • Hydraulic auger system fitting to Rock Spike Extractor
  • Stand-alone auger kit
  • Hydraulic post lifter
  • Side mount unit leg roller
  • Rockdrill

Pluses

  • 4.8m mast to handle the longest posts
  • Mast and side shift makes it easy to line up posts in exactly the right spot
  • Heavy-duty block and post cap
  • 11mm wire rope with a single oversized pulley to reduce wear and increase the lifespan
  • Simple modular system where all options can easily be bolted on after purchase 
  • Rotator base with a 180-degree arc behind the tractor
  • 800mm of telescopic reach built into the base

Minuses

  • With a 180-degree swing on the machine, there is little room for storage 
  • With the Rockdrill mounted to the front of the mast, it is able to hit the mudguard of the tractor

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