To use the poly-products effectively a retrieval-dispersal system is a must. Many types of
commercial reels are available and many producers make their own. Features to look for in a
commercial reel are a positive locking system, a good warranty, the capacity to hold the amount of
product typically used, and for most applications hi-speed gearing.
Two basic types of locking systems are used. The first is a cog and lock lever system. This is a
truly positive lock that prevents the accidental payout of fence. This system is advantageous for
keeping the fence taut, particularly in rough, rolling terrain. The other system is a rubberized
friction washer that is tightened with a knob to keep the spool from turning. The washer systems
work well until the washers become polished and no longer hold the spool in place. When this
occurs, the fence will sag and an animal stepping across the sagging fence may pull several hundred
feet of tape or polywire across the field. With a positive lock the fence is less likely to sag and
encourage animals to try to cross it but if the animal does cross the fence, the animal may drag
the reel across the field (hence, the need for a good warranty!).
Reels may have from no warranty up to 5-year warranty on the plastic components of the reel. If a
person is inclined to toss the reel in the back of the pickup and then throw a load of firewood in
on top, no reel is going to last and the warranty will be void. Most reels are fairly durable but
do need a little common sense in handling, as they are largely plastic. We have been using some
reels for more than 15 years and find they are holding up well. Others have worn out or fallen
apart in 2 to
3 years. This is an area where you definitely get what you pay for. A bargain reel is usually no
Reel capacities vary from as little a 300 ft of tape up to 1320 ft. Polywire capacities may range
660 feet to 2640 feet or even greater. The reel capacity should be sized to the situation. If a
20-acre field that is 660 feet wide is to be strip grazed, there is no need to purchase a reel
containing 2000 feet of polywire. If stretches of 1000 feet are typically used, one reel with at
least that much capacity will be more cost effective than using two reels of lesser capacity. With
a little forward thinking, having an excessive amount of reserve capacity or coming up short can be
easily avoided. Just size
the equipment to the job to be done.
If fences are put up and taken down with regularity or if numerous portable fences are used, a
reel is helpful. While most reels work with a 1:1 retrieval ratio, a geared reel can retrieve tape
or polywire at a much more rapid rate. The usual ratio is 3:1. A geared reel will cost more than a
1:1 reel of comparable quality, thus there should be valid justification for the time saving
investment in the geared reel.
We have found the O’Brien 3:1 geared reels to be most satisfactory and have been using them for
Many other options in reels are possible. Many producers use extension cord reels as polywire or
polytape reels. These reels are much cheaper than designed fencing reels but may not be as
convenient to use. Welding wire and electrical wire spools can be converted to fence reels very
easily. In our experience with different types of reel, we believe in the principle of use a hammer
a hammer and screwdriver for a screwdriver.
October 13, 2014