Easter Island gates look like ours

Blogger Richard Koelher from The Honest Hypocrite has been on honeymoon to Easter Island! Remarkable enough as that is in itself, he has been kind enough to provide some observations on some of the things he found there on his blog. Included is an intriguing photograph of a gate which he kindly drew to the Ranger’s attention:

A gate on Easter Island (c) Richard Koehler

The hinges are on the right (twists of flexible wood), and the fastening on the left appears to be a bit of twine. Richard says:

We found much ingenuity in the use of materials on Easter Island. Everything must be shipped in from the mainland (2000 miles away) with the consequent markup in cost, so they try to get all of the use they can.

Perhaps it is an example of convergent evolution, or maybe some old-time European sailor taught them the trick, or vice versa. But this gate looks remarkably like the traditional rural field-gates of lowland England, and perhaps elsewhere. Now normally seen in England only on more expensive gates, or when specially made for some heritage project, the characteristic raised hinge-post is something once found on many gate styles. It is one time when the normal dictum about the direction of the diagonal is reversed, and in fact the diagonal on such a gate has to run from hinge down to latch, because the gate is hanging from it. This particular example doesn’t look as if it would hold much back – a particularly sluggish horse maybe, or some very dim cattle. But sheep or calves would be straight out, and many horses would kick it to bits soon enough. So perhaps it was just to keep people out rather than stock in. Here is a modern example of the English equivalent for comparison:

A field-gate

Notice that the basic structure is identical, although the Ranger would venture to suggest that while this one might be a little better at stock retention, it probably wouldn’t get very far in a canoe.

Upside-down gates 4: the final edition

Not a bad idea for a thread, but the Ranger certainly learnt a thing or two from his wise readers – really all this should have been about ‘back-to-front gates’. They were never upside down. So to end, how about this for one by folk who really, really ought to know better. This gate featured on the ‘creature comforts’ animated cartoons that promoted the new Countryside Code for the Countryside Agency in 2004. Can anyone spot one other thing wrong with this gate? There might be two or possibly even three if you’re being hyper-critical.

The Countryside Code
Promotional card for the new Countryside Code

That’s enough about gate orientation for now… well, unless you find a real corker, then do take a photo and send it to the Ranger!

Upside-down gates 3: wherever you look…

Well, perhaps not quite everywhere. But there are a few. Now, you are paying attention to the Ranger’s ranting, are you not? He’s been busily finding upside-down and back-to-front gates for your entertainment, but is beginning to suspect that he is the only living soul who actually gives two hoots about this critical matter. If your faith is wavering, take a look at this shocking pic – taken outside the Ranger’s nipper’s school, you can even see the bolt is bent as the relatively new gate has already dropped – indeed, it looks as though the bolt is the only thing holding it up.

Upside-down gate at a school on the Isle of Wight

The Ranger knows from careful observation that this gate is required to support the weight of several lively boys on regular occasions, and so one would have hoped that the gate-installer would have learnt his lesson, and this gate of all gates would have been put in the right way!

Upside-down gates 2: it continues…

Well, it didn’t take long for the Ranger’s first case to come to light – and now he’s going to make an example of it. Look at this picture:

Gate on Red Funnel ferry, Isle of Wight

It was taken aboard the Red Funnel car ferry from East Cowes to Southampton. That’s Cowes you can see in the background. Do you notice anything about the gate? Oh, go on, you do, don’t you? See this recent post if none of this makes sense to you. Yes, the gate’s upside-down. Well spotted. And what’s worse, it’s a massive, heavy gate, and so liable to drop that the engineers have had to weld a triangular plate onto the top of it to hold it up. You can see it at the far left-hand end on the top of the main beam. How daft is that? They recognised that the gate was not going to hold up, and yet still managed not to spot why not. There are two ships, each with two such gates, and they are all the same – so it was designed like that, not just wrongly installed. Sigh. Black mark for Red Funnel, then. Ok, next!

Tell me, just how can you install a gate upside-down?

The Ranger is normally a pretty rational being – well, he would say so – but just occasionally he has to share with his readers one of his more unusual opinions, trusting that they will not question his common sense. This, dear readers, is such a time. You see, the Ranger has had an issue on his mind for many years. Long ago, when he had to work for a living, he got to install quite a few gates in fields and on paths. It was simple, if laborious, and not unrewarding. One of the few ways in which it was possible to get it wrong was to install the gate upside-down. Yes, really. There is a right and a wrong way to many gates and doors. It’s to do with the diagonal bar that crosses the gate, making a triangle. The point of the triangle should point away from the hinge, and this stops the gate from dropping and dragging on the ground as it gets old, or as people sit on it, or the ground softens or whatever.

How a gate hangs
How’s it hangin’? (From BTCV online handbook)

If you don’t understand, just trust the Ranger on this one. You really, really don’t want him to explain this one to you, unless your insomnia is out of control. So what’s this to do with the Ranger’s Blog? Read on. Ever since those halcyon days when pushing a mouse was something you had to do with a broom, the Ranger has scoffed with scorn at the examples of upside-down gates that still come to light. These are often seen on sets in films and TV programmes, as they are not built to last, but the more unforgivable ones are out there, in the wild, just waiting to drop, so the Ranger can crow ‘I told you so!’. This post is to introduce a series, in which the Ranger will expose this scourge. He invites you to do the same – keep your eye out for upside-down gates and doors near you! There are plenty online already – and yes, the Ranger is sad enough to have looked. If you’d like, even take a picture, put it on Flickr or something, and tell the Ranger about it with a comment below. Together, we’ll make the biggest collection of upside-down gates on the internet!