Fencing: Taege post drivers

When you’re excited about something, all you want to do is talk about it, which is why the team from Taege went to visit the Renners of Renner Contracting, who’ve been wrapped with the results of their Taege post driver.

The Taege team piled into their 4WD company vehicle and headed up the Awatere Valley in Marlborough along a slippery farm track into the hills of a very large Merino sheep station. It was an interesting trip, including a river crossing that saw the water rise as high as the bonnet. Eventually they came across some high country sheep yards under construction and there stood the reason for all the excitement — a Taege post driver with possibly the biggest rock spike ever seen on a Taege machine.

Terry Renner and sons Michael and Bradley are fencing contractors working out of Seddon in Marlborough. Their business has been running for 45 years, so they know a thing or two about fencing and fencing machinery. With a long history owning Taege post drivers, they seemed like the perfect candidates to chat to, to find out more about these post drivers and how they handle the tough demands of Marlborough’s rocky soils.

This is the Renner’s fourth Taege contractor post driver and Terry says they are very satisfied with how Taege’s post drivers handle what they demand of them.

“We use another brand for the easier vineyard repair work, as we can access both sides of the rows from the one position which is convenient, but our Taege post driver is the real workhorse that gets used the majority of the time,” he says.

“We were running three Taeges at once, with sixteen staff at the height of the vineyard boom, driving 26,000 strainer posts in a year, which is a real test for any post driver.”

Terry says, at the age of eighteen he was taught to fence by a gentleman who owned the first post driver in Marlborough, an old rope-operated machine purpose built by Fairweathers.

“Post drivers have surely come a long way since then,” he says. “For years we could only fence in the winter when the ground was softer, but now with the patented Taege hydraulic rock spike we can keep operating all year round.”

Terry’s son Michael says the rock spikes have been a “life saver”.

“We now have the Rolls Royce of spikes with our latest Taege driver, as it has a massive 150mm rock spike especially designed for putting in strainers,” he says.

To accommodate the big spike, Taege Engineering built the driver using nine-millimetre RHS for the spike mast with a high-powered hydraulic spike turner and an extra heavy-duty spike extractor ram with approximately 20 tonnes pulling power.

“It works brilliantly, has sped up the whole operation for us and stopped the incidents of breaking strainers,” says Michael.

Bradley Renner, who was unfortunately unavailable at the time of Taege Engineering’s visit, stands at 6’4″ and is built like a strainer post himself, so he’s as happy as a pig in poo with thousands of strainers ahead to put in, especially with this new machine.

While on the topic of spikes, it’s important to bring to your attention an invention Terry has come up with. We mentioned earlier that the Renners know a lot about fencing and related machinery and this is proven again in their design of the mighty Renner Spike, which has been said resembles some sort of warhead (see page 81). I can assure you and the national defence force that a warhead it is not, but a weapon it most certainly is. When setting posts in concrete, as in security fencing or domestic fences etc., the Renners used to use an auger but for many reasons they decided they needed something better. With an auger the ground is loosened up around the outside of the auger reach, with stoney ground the hole ends up being a lot bigger than desired, asphalt is ripped up and there are the tailings to get rid of. Terry says that with the Renner Spike, the ground is compacted around the outside edge so the concrete is tighter, the asphalt has a neat round hole through it, and all they have to do is clean up with a broom — it’s brilliant.

As well as build strength, Terry says he enjoys the longevity and retained value of the Taege post drivers.

“We can use a Taege driver for six to seven years driving strainers and still get over $10,000 for it when we replace it. I’ve tried other market-leading brands of post drivers that have only lasted a matter of weeks, let alone months or years. We have had cases where contractors have pulled out of a job because it is too hard going on the post drivers they own and we have had to go in and finish it with our Taege machines. I’m not saying the other brands are no good, as they will all have their place in the market, but, as I’ve mentioned, Taege is the only brand able to handle the work we expect from a contractor’s post driver.”

Although vineyards are its biggest contracts, Renner Contracting also undertakes a range of jobs including domestic, high country, general farming applications, security fences, tennis courts, tin and paling fences and retaining walls.

“We don’t mind travelling and will provide a service to our customers from the Clarence River in the south to the Rai Valley,” says Terry.

Terry says his team take a lot of pride in their work because their fences are seen by a lot of people over a long period of time.

“Things like straight fences and vineyard lines are very important to us. Our latest Taege post driver has some new features which really help us achieve that. The 600mm sliding side shift and 170mm end shift are a must have now that we’ve used them. They give us much more flexibility as to where the tractor is parked and we have the ability to spike the holes very straight, which insures straight posts. The diggers with vibrating heads are faster than our operation and they can reach over numerous rows of vineyard posts from one position, but they have their drawbacks as well. Because of the position of the operator, posts are not always straight, so with all that hydraulic power at their fingertips, it is easy to tweak the posts straight but that leaves a cavity at the base of the posts so they can move when the load comes on.”

The back-up service the Renners have received from Taege Engineering has been the icing on the cake, they say.

“It’s all well and good having a great product but even great products need back up, and so far I have been really looked after by Taege Engineering.”

Terry remembers a time when they broke a component on a driver at 4pm, meaning they missed the courier to get the part to them by the following morning. So he jumped in the car and drove to Sheffield, about 340km away. He says he found Keith Taege at the fire brigade doing one of the many community services he’s involved in and he dropped everything to help him out.

“The part wasn’t available, so he set to on the lathe and by 1:30am I was back on the road to Seddon. By 6:30am, our fencing gang was underway again with no down time lost.”

As a parting comment, Terry says it’s good to see New Zealand companies building quality products that are cost effective and suit New Zealand requirements.

“Often machines brought over from Europe and other countries are perceived to be better than what we can produce ourselves, but that clearly isn’t the case when it comes to Taege Engineering.”

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