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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Do it Yourself Discussion! => Topic started by: jane x on May 06, 2016, 02:10:55 PM

Title: Repair or Replace wrought iron gates?
Post by: jane x on May 06, 2016, 02:10:55 PM
Ah, dilemmas.... We have three wrought iron gates that need repairs.  They're all at least 25 years old and over time and various earthquakes and tremors have shifted enough that they no longer close shut.  They all need an extra 1/4"-1/2" gap to make them fully closing again.  Other than that, they are in very good shape - posts are strong and the gates themselves are good and sturdy.  But the repairs will need to be professionally done and we live in a HCOL area so the labor will be high - estimates so far are in the $1-$2 k range depending on method of repair. 

We're trying to decide if we do the repairs or take the whole thing out and replace with a redwood fence.  If we do this, dh will do all the labor to tear out and install the new fence.  However, there will be costs there as well - the redwood, ripping out the concrete, disposal of concrete and metals, equipment rentals, etc.  The benefit is that future repairs can be done by dh.  The financial cost might be less if we replace with the wood, because dh will do all the labor, but it's quite a bit of labor.  I don't know which type of fencing would hold up better over time.

Any thoughts or suggestions? 
Title: Re: Repair or Replace wrought iron gates?
Post by: sokoloff on May 06, 2016, 04:26:08 PM
Wrought iron is hard to weld, being quite variable and having a lot of slag inherent in the material and as always, you need to remove any coatings back to bare metal around the weld area and then re-apply the decorative and protective coatings. It's definitely not a material to learn welding on.

If you can repair with mechanical fasteners (bolts or rivets), you may find that a more satisfactory repair. They make bolts that look like they have rivet heads on one side to make the repair look more original.
Title: Re: Repair or Replace wrought iron gates?
Post by: jane x on May 06, 2016, 05:18:45 PM
Wrought iron is hard to weld, being quite variable and having a lot of slag inherent in the material and as always, you need to remove any coatings back to bare metal around the weld area and then re-apply the decorative and protective coatings. It's definitely not a material to learn welding on.

If you can repair with mechanical fasteners (bolts or rivets), you may find that a more satisfactory repair. They make bolts that look like they have rivet heads on one side to make the repair look more original.

Is it possible to shave down wrought iron?  The issue is that the door and post are too close together and won't close during the warm weather, though they are fine in cold weather.  I don't think we have to remove much, maybe 1/8" to 1/4" at most.    I'm thinking we could get a metal grinder and shave off a little on each side of the door and the post to make it work. 

The local equipment rental place has the 4" metal grinder for $14 for 2 days rental.  Do you think it's worth a try?
Title: Re: Repair or Replace wrought iron gates?
Post by: lthenderson on May 06, 2016, 08:10:07 PM
Have the gates bent or has whatever they are hinged to shifted? I'm guessing it is the latter and it would be a shame to toss wrought iron fences away that can last more than a hundred years to replace with wood. Old wrought iron gates are big bucks these days at auctions. I would look for a solution on whatever they are attached too and adjust them that way to get them working properly. A picture would be helpful.
Title: Re: Repair or Replace wrought iron gates?
Post by: bradne on May 06, 2016, 11:38:56 PM
Grinding them down is definitely possible, however it would be extremely difficult to do it and make it look good.  I agree a picture would help. Is it an even 1/4" to 1/2" too wide all the way down the edge? Or is is possible that the posts that the gate mount on and latch to are not parallel anymore?  If it is only 25 years old, is it really true wrought iron (which is like a cast heavy metal), or is it mild steel that is simply bent and fabricated into a designer pattern?  If the latter, any decent steel fabricator should be able to actually cut and reweld all three gate openings pretty easily. 
Title: Re: Repair or Replace wrought iron gates?
Post by: Cyaphas on May 07, 2016, 01:31:19 AM
I'd have to see pictures, but your posts may be misaligned and that would require busting their base up and just re setting them. If the adjustments aren't too far to make, you could get away with heating the metal up and using a good sized sledge to shift what needs to be bent back or adjusted. Even a come along and a weed burner may be able to bend posts to where you need them.
Title: Re: Repair or Replace wrought iron gates?
Post by: sokoloff on May 07, 2016, 04:15:36 AM
You might also check to see if the hinge points are adjustable. On my heavy driveway gates, the hinge points are threaded into the posts, such that if I remove the gate leaf, I can thread in/out the hinge point, adjusting the tilt of the gate (a lot) or if I do both, I can shift the gate slightly. Or, of course, you can mechanically adjust the posts (hydraulic spreader/jack, come-alongs, wedges, depending on what material they are and how they're set).

Agree with the other posters to save the wrought iron (even if just simulated wrought iron) if at all feasible.