How to Make a Roping Chute

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A roping chute is a narrow enclosure designed to hold a steer before a roping event and to release it immediately when the round begins. As it is important to release the steer at the same time the roper enters the arena, many roping chutes include spring-loaded gates that allow the chute to be opened instantly upon a signal. A roping chute does not need to be complicated, and an efficient spring-loaded chute can be built with basic welding skills.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 1/2-inch angle iron, about 20 feet
  • Cutting torch
  • Welding rig
  • 1-inch square tubing, about 20 feet
  • 1/2-inch by 1 1/2-inch bar steel, about three feet
  • 1-inch pipe, about seven feet
  • Measuring tape
  • Chalk
  • 2 bolts, 3/4-inch by 6-inch
  • 6 nuts, 3/4-inch
  • 1/2-inch rod, 5 feet
  • Drill
  • 25/64-inch drill bit
  • Hammer
  • 5 bolts, 3/8-inch by 2-inch
  • 5 nuts, 3/8-inch
  • 1/4-inch sheet iron, about three square feet
  • 1/2-inch drill bit
  • 4 eye bolts, 1-inch by 3/4-inch
  • 4 nuts, 3/4-inch
  • 1-inch U-clamp
  • 2 expansion springs, 40 inch
  • 12 pipe clamps, 1 inch
  • 2 pipe fence panels, 4 feet by 10 feet

Frame and Gate

  • Cut 1 1/2-inch angle iron into two 50-inch lengths and two 42-inch lengths using a cutting torch. Notch one end of the 50-inch lengths to allow them to fit flush with the 42-inch lengths at a 90-degree angle. Weld each 50-inch length to one of the 42-inch lengths at a 90-degree angle using a welding rig.

  • Cut 1-inch square tubing into four 40-inch lengths and 20 10-inch lengths. Weld 10 of the 10-inch lengths every four inches between two of the 40-inch lengths to create two rectangular gates.

  • Cut 1/2 inch by 1 1/2-inch bar steel into four 2 1/2-inch lengths. Weld a length of bar steel to the front of each 42-inch length of angle iron about 12 inches from the bottom, running parallel to the angle iron. Weld a second length of bar steel to the front of each 42-inch length of angle iron about 12 inches from the top. Cut 1-inch pipe into eight 2 1/2 inch lengths. Weld a length of pipe to each piece of bar steel to act as a hinge.

  • Place the gates against the 42-inch lengths of angle iron. Measure and mark a 2 1/2-inch length rectangle on each gate just below the top hinges on the frame. Measure and mark a 2 1/2-inch length rectangle on each gate just above the top hinges on the frame. Weld the remaining four 2 1/2-inch lengths of pipe to these marks. Attach a gate to each frame using a 6-inch by 3/4-inch bolt and nut.

  • Cut 1-inch square tubing into two 14 3/4-inch lengths. Weld these lengths to the bottom of the frame at the end of the 50-inch lengths of angle iron and inside the junction between the 50-inch and 42-inch lengths at the front of the frame.

Gate Opening Mechanism

  • Cut 1/2-inch rod to a length of 48 inches. Measure and mark the center of the frame above the gates. Weld the rod to the front of the frame at the mark.

  • Cut 1-inch pipe to a length of 34 inches. Cut 1/2-inch by 1 1/2-inch bar steel to a length of 8 inches. Weld the bar steel to one end of the pipe to create a T-shape. Drill a 25/64-inch hole two inches from each end of the bar steel. Slide the pipe onto the 1/2-inch rod welded to the frame with the bar steel opposite the gate. Weld the free end of the 1/2-inch rod to the back of the frame.

  • Cut 1-inch pipe into two 14-inch lengths. Heat the terminal end of each pipe and pound it flat with a ball-peen hammer. Flatten the other end of each pipe, making sure the ends of the pipe are flattened at the same angle. Drill a 25/64-inch hole in the center of one flattened area on each pipe. Bolt each length of pipe to the bar steel on the sliding rod using 3/8-inch by 2-inch bolts.

  • Slide the pipe all the way forward and open the gates all the way. Place the flattened ends of the pipes on top of the gate. Hold them in place and drill a 25/64-inch hole through the flattened ends of the pipe directly above the gate and through the top bar of each gate. Bolt the flattened ends of the pipe to the top bar of each gate using 3/8-inch by 2-inch bolts.

Latch

  • Cut a piece of 1/4-inch sheet iron measuring 5 inches by 12 inches. Weld this piece to the back of the sliding pipe in an upright position.

  • Cut a piece of 1/4-inch sheet iron 5 inches by 10 inches. Cut 1 1/2-inch angle iron to a length of 10 inches. Weld the angle iron to the center of the sheet iron. Cut bar steel into two 4-inch lengths, one 12-inch length, and one 5-inch length. Drill a 15/32-inch hole into each 4-inch length an inch from one end. Weld the 12-inch length and the 5-inch length together at a 45-degree angle. Drill a 15/32-inch hole one inch from the end of the 12-inch length where it meets the 5-inch length.

  • Weld the two 4-inch lengths of bar iron to the center of the 5-inch by 10-inch piece of sheet iron, on the opposite side of the angle iron. The 4-inch lengths should be welded upright with the holes on the uppermost ends, and should be situated 3/4 inch apart. Connect the 12-inch length of bar steel between the two 4-inch lengths using a 3/8-inch by 2-inch bolt.

  • Drill a 1/2-inch hole in the 5-inch length of bar steel an inch from the top. Tie one end of a 10-foot length of rope through the hole. Weld the latch platform to the top of the frame so that the 12-inch length of bar steel intersects the 12-inch length welded to the top of the sliding pipe.

Springs

  • Cut 1 1/2-inch angle iron into a 17 3/4-inch length and a 10-inch length. Drill a 25/64-inch hole 5 7/8 inches from each end of the 17 3/4-inch length. Insert a 1-inch by 3/4-inch eye bolt into each of these holes and attach them using 3/4-inch nuts. Weld the 17 3/4-inch length to the front of the frame with the eye bolts facing the rear of the gate.

  • Attach the 10-inch length of angle iron to the sliding pipe with a U-clamp. Drill a 25/64-inch hole one inch from each end of the angle iron. Insert an eye bolt into each of these holes and attach them using 3/4-inch nuts.

  • Hook one end of a 40-inch expansion spring to each eye bolt. Tighten the clamps at the end of each spring to hold it in place.

  • Attach the frame to two 4-foot by 10-foot pipe fence panels using 12 1-inch pipe clamps. Three clamps should be evenly spaced on either side of the gate, while three more clamps should be evenly spaced along the top sides of the frame.

Tips & Warnings

  • When you push the gates closed, you will compress the springs and push the upright length of bar steel behind the latch, which will hold it in place. When you pull the rope, the latch should pull up and away from the bar steel, allowing the gates to spring open.
  • The gates will come open with some force. Take care when arming the chute, and do not trigger it without making sure nobody is standing near the front of the gate.
  • Always wear protective clothing and goggles when cutting metal. Always wear a properly rated welding mask when welding metal.

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