Intro: Tall Drop Rod for Fence Gate
We recently built a privacy fence with a double gate. I needed something to pin one side to the ground to keep it from swinging open. Most hardware stores sell drop rod kits, but they are typically only about 30" long. When you figure that you'll want at least 5" in the ground, the handle will only be 2' high. I'm a tall guy and don't really want to bend over to open a gate, so I decided to make a tall drop rod out of material I already had.
-3/4" metal conduit
-1/2" metal conduit
-1/2" conduit straps
-screws (suitable for the type of wood you have)
Step 1: Putting It All Together
The conduit straps have a little tab on each side that the conduit "snaps" into. We want the conduit to be able to slide through the straps. Use your preferred method to sand/grind the detents off the strap. After the straps have been modified, hammer the straps over the 3/4" conduit to stretch them out a little bit.
Figure out where you want to mount the drop rod on the gate. Hold the 1/2" conduit vertically against the gate and attach the straps. I put one strap on the middle rail and one on the lower rail. I used deck screws (suitable for treated wood) to attach the straps. I also backed the screws out 1 turn from tight to allow a little wiggle room to let the conduit slide.
Once the straps are mounted, hold the gate where you want it to normally stay and push the 1/2" conduit into the ground about 1" deep. This is just to mark where the 3/4" conduit will be driven into the ground. Remove the conduit and open the gate.
With the ground marked, drive the 3/4" conduit in the ground at least 6". Loose or soft soil will work better with a deeper hole. I drove mine in about 10" until I started hitting rocks. After driven to the desired depth, mark the conduit at ground level and remove it from the ground, While removing it, twist and pull the conduit straight up, minimize rocking the conduit from side to side to prevent the hole from becoming oblong or enlarged. The conduit is going to be packed full of soil. You can either scrape it all out of the conduit, or you can measure the length that needs to be put in the ground and cut it off of the other end of the conduit that is still hollow. Once you have the short section, push it back into the hole made in the ground earlier. Keep it flush with the ground to prevent tripping over it or hitting it with the lawnmower.
Close the gate and slide the 1/2" conduit through the straps mounted earlier. Slide the 1/2" conduit all the way into the 3/4" conduit that is now in the ground. Mark the height on the 1/2" conduit where you want to bend it for the handle. If you have a conduit bender, it'll look much neater than my crimped bend. Bend the handle and cut off the excess. I made mine where I could spin the handle to rest on the top rail when I wanted to open the gate.
Step 2: Final Thoughts
This is a great low cost solution that is easily suited to your specific needs. The conduit is galvanized, so it should hold up to the elements for years. Worst case, if the conduit rusts away, a new 10' piece is only about $2.
I may redo mine at some point and use a conduit bender to form the handle. They also sell plastic plugs in the plumbing section at Lowes that fit perfectly in the end of 1/2" conduit for a nice finished look.