This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The introduction of the old and well-established principles of the truss in the design and construction of gates, is an improvement which effectually obviates all tendency to sag, and at the same time furnishes the remedy for it should such a thing occur. In roofs of great span, and in bridges, the truss is found to be the best form of construction known to resist an equal or unequal load, and its merits have been well tested. The application of a bridge truss to a gate is a suggestion of our own, no use of it ever having been made before in this manner that has come to our knowledge; and having by practical experiments ascertained the entire fitness of the truss for the construction of gates of every class, from the rustic farm gate of cedar poles, to park gates of a massive and ornamental character, we have no hesitation in stating that it presents the best united form of the three leading principles that are desirable in gate construction, viz: beauty, strength, and economy. A careless glance at the design given with this article would lead many to suppose that this principle is a common every-day matter, the use of braces and counter-braces being recognized in nearly every style of gate.
As we have studied the subject of gate construction theoretically and practically, and made experimental tests of the strength and permanence of all the most approved principles in use, we speak guardedly as well as confidently when we say that the true principle of the truss is not embraced in any form of gate construction that has yet been adopted. We have had occasion to examine one or two in which some of its characteristics have been used, and they have proved to be of a superior character.
There is nothing new in the principle of the truss, and its strength is an admitted fact. In applying it in the construction of gates we adopt the best known form of strength for that purpose, and one which, in all conditions of shrinkage, decay, or abuse, embraces within itself the remedy that shall effectually overcome the objectionable results from these causes. The enormous tensile strength of iron being brought in opposition with the unyielding power of wood, has the effect of making a truss very rigid in its character. In the engraving the principle of the truss is easily traced, being two braces between each perpendicular iron rod, running from the lower rail to the upper rail, and crossing each other in the centre. All else is for the purpose of ornament and protection. Should the gate, from any cause whatever, sag down, it can be easily brought back by unscrewing the rods and placing a thin strip of wood or sheet lead under the foot of those braces that run forward toward the upper rail.
THE WOODWARD GATE.
There are no nails required to make these gates, except to attach or secure ornamental work;. no mortises are necessary but those in each corner of the gate frame. All the stuff is two by four inches, halved together, wherever they cross, and any piece can be taken out and replaced without injury to any part of the gate. The braces are all of equal length, and are got out with square ends, the bevel being made on the triangular foot block at the-head and foot of each brace; they are held tightly in their place by compression, which can be controlled to the amount of several tons. No nails or mortises have any thing like the power or security.
We call particular attention to the hinge shown, and the manner of applying it, which we believe to be new. The iron bolt which passes through the gate at the heel post passes through both upper and lower hinge, and makes hinge and gate, as it were, one thing only. Three carriage-bolts in addition are all that are necessary to completely attach the hinges, and the result is a stronger and more durable hinge at half the cost of those in common use.
We believe the truss gate contains the remedy for all objections urged against the common forms. It can be constructed for about one-third less money than any other style, and is adapted equally as well for a cheap farm gate as for ornamental gates of country seats and parks.
The variety in designs afforded by first drawing the principle is almost unlimited. The truss, the double truss, single braces, interlaced braces, lattice, etc., are but different changes of the plan. In connection with these we can add designs not only peculiar to this style of gate, but designs of any character whatever can easily be adapted to it; and if desirable, the truss principle can be so woven in as not to be recognized except on close inspection. We, however, do not consider it any evidence of beauty or taste to hide the indications of strength; that gate which does not proclaim its power lacks a quality for which a graceful and well-proportioned ornament is no compensation. The most charming design is but a silly display if there is no exhibition of its usefulness.
A gate can be, and should be made, a very pretty feature in the embellishment of a country home, and in some measure should express an insight to the taste displayed in the adornment of the grounds. Its plan of construction, beauty of design, or practical utility, should attract attention in preference to elaborate workmanship, costly columns, etc,; the preference should be in this, as well as in all other departments of landscape art, to display the evidences of a refined and cultivated taste instead of the evidences of wealth, and the estimate of value should be more in proportion to beauty than cost.
The true lover of country life will discard an iron gate, not as bad taste exactly, but as inappropriate taste, it being more in keeping with the appointments of a town establishment than in the list of rural embellishments. A four story freestone front harmonizes equally as well with the beautiful or picturesque.
We shall, in future articles, illustrate the use of the truss principle in rustic work. In this, nails are of no permanent value, and rustic gates, fences, seats, etc., tumble to pieces as soon as they get thoroughly seasoned. The iron bolts in a truss, which add but a trifle to first cost over nails, render rustic work in that form as durable as the materials of which they are composed.
We invite the gate-building community to make free use of the hint here given; our reward is sufficient to know that in this new application of an old principle, there is a successful illustration of science and economy.
[We can not forego the pleasure of adding a word of approval in .regard to these gates. They combine the elements of simplicity, strength, and beauty in an eminent degree. The principle is susceptible of so many styles of ornamentation, that it may be adapted to any kind of architecture. This Mr. Woodward will illustrate in succeeding articles. Did it ever occur to you, Mr. Woodward, that a good stiff, durable ornamental fence might be got up in the same way? - Ed].