REVIEW: Munro Wire Winder

By: Tom Dickson, Photography by: Andrew Britten , Video by: Andrew Britten

Presented by

The Munro Wire Winder is put to the test by Tom Dickson in Victoria’s South Gippsland region.


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John and Jason Denbrok are re-fencing the whole of their Stony Creek property as a step towards converting it into a dairy farm. Time is money, so the faster they can finish the job, the sooner they can start milking cows.

Erecting a new stock fence is one of the most rewarding jobs on the farm. The vision of long, straight lines of posts and perfectly tensioned wires provides a sense of satisfaction that only farmers and fencing contractors can fully appreciate.

But while fencing was a job I really enjoyed doing on the farm, I detested with a passion having to pull down and dispose of the old one.

I tried every which way, in search of the easiest option, but the eventual outcome was always the same: a mountain of tangled wire, cut hands, torn clothes, and a crook back for the next two weeks caused by coiling up the old wire by hand.

A bloke who agrees with me is experienced fencing contractor James Haasjes from J SH Fencing at Leongatha.

He designed and built a machine to coil up old fencing wire quickly without any physical input. He called it the Wire Winder, and knew from the first job that he had a winner on his hands.

It’s a low-maintenance, sturdy machine that attaches to any front-end loader. Plugging into the tractor’s hydraulics, it is capable of winding in ringlock or a combination of barbed and plain wire in excess of 10 wires at a time.

 

The complete fencing outfit. James Haasjes entrusted Munro with his design because, through past experience, believed they manufactured a quality product.

Finding a way

I recently headed across to the Denbrok’s farm to see how they’re using the Wire Winder, hear the story of its development from Haasjes, and try the attachment out for myself.

According to Haasjes, he had been offered a fencing job that had an impossible time frame for completion. Not wanting to knock back work, he set about finding a way to make it happen, and so began the prototype.

"We had an eight week time frame to rip out and replace all the fencing on a 330-acre dairy farm, and I just felt that tackling it by hand we wouldn’t have had a hope of getting it done," he says.

The main frame, spinner and euro hitch on the original was made of scrap steel that Haasjes had stacked under the workshop bench. The hydraulic motor came out of the calf shed floor, while the steel eyelets that guide the wire onto the spinner were originally part of the stay assembly on a power pole.

The original looked rough, but according to Haasjes, it worked better than he had imagined and allowed him to finish that job within the allocated eight weeks.

 

Metal Hydraulic pipes have been used on the machine to avoid potential damage to flexible hoses.

Room for improvement

At the completion of the job, he showed how effective it was to Warren McLean, Manager of Munro engineering at Ballarat.

Munro Engineering has been in the Australian engineering business since the 1800s. Its focus, more recently, is on the manufacture and supply of quality fencing equipment. 

They were so impressed with the Wire Winder’s performance that they agreed to start manufacturing, marketing and selling it.

Haasjes constructed the prototype in early 2015. In the 12 months since then, Munro Engineering has refined the design, organised sales and marketing, and rolled the first one off the production line in late February 2016.

He was presented with the first Munro Wire Winder for on the job testing. Apart from using new steel, looking a bit neater, and having been given Munro’s green and yellow paint job its design was virtually an exact copy of the prototype that Haasjes had put together.

He said that he had only found one area of weakness in the completed product but said it was quickly rectified once he made Munro aware of the issue.

"The eyelets that guide the wire onto the spinner bent inward as soon as I put a bit of pressure onto them."

"Munro quickly solved the problem by using a heavier duty steel in the frame work and I haven’t had a problem since."

"I think it is a credit to the company that they are prepared to listen and act on the advice from those who are out in the field using the product." He said.

 

The simple maintenance free machine takes all the hard physical work out of fence removal. 

Reel them in

There are three main techniques of reeling in the old wires that apply to either barbed wire, plain or netting. They are not technical terms, but ones I made up on the spot to help gain a mental picture of how it works.

The stationary pull

This is when we parked the tractor and dragged eight barbed wires to our stationary location. It is a great technique for shorter lengths, wires that are not at risk of breaking, and when operating at a fence intersection where you can wind up a couple of fence lines without having to change locations.

This style of winding up the wires was my first experience using the Wire Winder. I was a bit concerned about having too many revs on the tractor and forcing the spinner to operate too fast, but Haasjes encouraged me to go as hard as I liked.

He also advised our cameraman Andrew Britten to be ready because the eight strands of barb were going to disappear in no time, and it was all going to be over very quickly.

He was spot on. I engaged the third function on the front-end loader, which instigated oil flow to the hydraulic motor at the base of the spinner. In the few seconds it took me to look up, about 20 metres of wire had been swallowed up. Within about 15 more seconds, the whole 100 metres had been wound up into a tight bundle.

I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it in action with my own eyes.

Once it’s all wound up, a tapered key is tapped out to allow the top plate, above the coiled wire, to be removed. Tilting the Wire Winder fully forward on the front-end loader allows the coil of wound up wire to slide straight off into the back of a the ute.

I would have liked to have tilted it further forward, but the hydraulic hoses wouldn’t allow it. Haasjes reassured me that this was only an issue on this early version, and had been rectified on all machines built since.

 

Haasjes dumps the coils straight into the back of a ute,to avoid heavy lifting, and removes them from the property as part of his fencing service.

The mobile pull

In this method, we went through exactly the same process of attaching the wires to the spinner, but instead of dragging the wires to us, we travelled along the line at a similar speed as the wire was being drawn in.

This is a more suitable approach on long fence lines where the weight of the wire would place huge amounts of pressure on the machine. It works better on old fence lines as well, where rusty fatigued wire tends to break more easily under load. Travelling towards the wire allows us to reattach broken ends, making sure nothing is left behind.

With two stops along the way we still had two barbed and six plain wires wound up and in the back of the ute in under five minutes. Of this, the wire winder was probably only operating for about two minutes.

The fishing pull

This technique takes a little longer, and is used when wire netting and wires have been buried in the dirt and grass over a long period of time and need to be dragged up and out in order to be wound up.

 I liken it to fishing because the front-end loader is used like a rod hauling in a big fish.

Lifting the front-end loader with tension on the wires drags it out. Then, as we lower the loader, I engaged the spinner and drove forwards. It takes a bit longer, but is still extremely effective.

Anyone who has ever done a bit of fencing knows that if you leave these bottom wires in the ground, they get wound up in the auger of the post driver when you are banging in new posts.

 

In under half a minute one hundred metres of barbed wire is wrapped up and ready for disposal.

Almost perfect

It was a bit tricky trying to tie all eight high tensile wires to spinner, and I presume that if wire-netting was part of the bundle, then it may be even harder. So my only suggestion, in what is otherwise a perfect piece of engineering, would be to design some sort of mechanism that would simplify the way the wires attach to the spinner.

Haasjes says it doesn’t matter if the wires are rusted.  If they break you get off, wrap the broken ends around the wires that are still going into the machine, and off you go again.

"With one of these I can do as much in four hours as what it takes others to do in a day," he says. "It has allowed me to drop off one worker who was costing me around $60,000 per year without losing any productivity."

There is zero maintenance required on the equipment, but the odd smearing of a bit of grease onto the main shaft helps with the removal of the coils of wire.

The one we’re testing is equipped to suit a Eurohitch loader, but Munro engineering will manufacture it to suit varying attachment styles. The 250cc hydraulic motor, made by White, doesn’t need a great deal of hydraulic oil flow to operate. It is the same type used for the auger drive on the Munro post drivers.

Incorporated into the design is a fold-out bar on each side of the frame for carrying bundles of old wire. So you carry up to three bundles with you and reduce the risk of them getting left behind in the paddock.  

At $5500, I reckon anyone who has a bit of fencing ahead of them should get one. If not to save time and money, then just to save your back.

As I drove out the gate of the Denbroks’ farm I was left thinking, why didn’t someone come up with this design years ago?

 

HITS                      

  • Speed
  • Reduces labour cost
  • Barbed, plain or netting
  • Handles more than 10 wires at a time.
  • Euro hitch
  • Makes a tight bundle of wire for disposal
  • Zero maintenance

MISSES                

  • Hydraulic hoses to short
  • Wire attachment to spinner

SPECS

Hyd. Pump: White 250cc

Width (mm): 1400

Depth (mm): 1200

Height (mm): 700         

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