Kevin D. S. August 31, 2007 12:30 PM

Man, that’s slicker than snot on a doorknob! Wait – there’s an idea here. No need to worry about bump-proofing locks anymore!

Anonymous August 31, 2007 12:30 PM

I’ve used Vaseline to keep squirrels out of my bird feeder (greased pole). Maybe they’re on to something.

Lou the troll August 31, 2007 12:54 PM

They used to grease coat the posts of street signs in the neighborhood I grew up in. People still stole the signs…

Kevin D. S. August 31, 2007 12:55 PM

With the rails in the background, my bet is that it is the perimeter of some type of rail yard. Its just there to warn would-be graffiti artists that they will bust their tail if they try to climb the fence.

max August 31, 2007 12:56 PM

Similar technique was sometimes used in USSR to prevent people from crossing a fence and hitching a free ride on a tram (the cost of said ride was 5c.) There was no sign involved, the fence was simply covered with a generous coat of yucky black cup grease. I believe the price/performance was fairly good.

Steven Bass August 31, 2007 1:16 PM

They do this to keep people from crossing the fence to get to the parking lot on the other side. Otherwise impatient commuters try to climb the fence to avoid the long walk to the end of the station and up and over and back down again. Fairly common in the Boston area.

Tremaine Lea August 31, 2007 1:16 PM

It’s a deterrent to trespassers, frequently used in train yards. It also helps protect the chain link from corrosion thus extending the life of the fence.

Larry August 31, 2007 1:18 PM

Regarding the parking lot fence: Why the heck don’t they just put in a gate for those people?

Aesop August 31, 2007 1:20 PM

Stay off the tracks, warns chief – Easton Journal
A thick yellow line edges the train tracks in Mansfield with the words “Stand Back??? boldly warning boarding passengers of the oncoming dangers.
Various signs of caution are attached to fences, posts and walls. “Warning, fence treated with lubricant,??? “Warning, —private property — no trespassing??? and most ominous of all, “Caution — will not clear man on side of car,??? attached to the side of the handicapped ramp, the site where Robert Castro, 15 was struck and killed by an Acela train traveling more than 130 miles per hour Sunday afternoon…

Joe Huffman August 31, 2007 1:49 PM

The first that that comes to mind is an old joke about carrying a small caliber handgun for protection against bears. People in the know would give people that planned to do such a thing the advice to be sure and file the front sight off of the gun. When asked why the explaination is, “So it won’t hurt so much when the bear shoves it where ‘the sun don’t shine.'”

Lubricating the fence could be interpreted as a similar threat of what will happen to trespassers. But more likely it is just a warning that you are likely to slip and fall if you try to climb or vault over it.

Zwack August 31, 2007 2:03 PM

@Joe Huffman

The small caliber handgun is great protection against bears… When a bear approaches you shoot one of your party and you can outrun him very easily.


Nick Lancaster August 31, 2007 2:15 PM

So if I’m walking alongside the fence, slip and instinctively reach out to catch myself, I can thank the transit authority as my fingers slip off the fence and I land on my face?

How about in the rain? Is the ‘lubricant’ viscous enough to not rinse off in a downpour, thus creating miniature oil slicks on the pavement?

Matt from CT August 31, 2007 2:37 PM

A way to add another billion dollars to
the $8 billion, 2,000 mile state-of-the-
art border fence between Mexico and
the Homeland?

Please report to The Department of Political Correction at your earliest convience for the mandatory electroshock therapy for suggesting a “grease fence” along the Mexican border.

Andrew Dennis August 31, 2007 2:40 PM

There’s a product on sale in the UK that does this, called Vandalene. It’s a paint-on anti-climb lubricant, which also stains skin and clothing and stinks like a bitch.

Slik 50 August 31, 2007 2:43 PM

Agree with some of the others that it’s not meant as an additional deterrent (like “Warning! Electric Fence! might be) but to inform people that they might get grease on their noses. Or something.

skate August 31, 2007 2:52 PM

This article seems to confirm that the sign is a warning:

“A thick yellow line edges the train tracks in Mansfield with the words “Stand Back??? boldly warning boarding passengers of the oncoming dangers.
Various signs of caution are attached to fences, posts and walls. “Warning, fence treated with lubricant,??? “Warning, —private property — no trespassing??? and most ominous of all, “Caution — will not clear man on side of car,??? attached to the side of the handicapped ramp”

…that, combined with Andrew Dennis reference to Vandalene seem to make a strong case

JDC August 31, 2007 2:53 PM

If you tour Buckingham Palace, there is a sign announcing that it is painted with “anti-climbing paint”.

tk. August 31, 2007 3:55 PM

@Larry: there’s a fence near the train station in Eugene, OR, that has the same problem, and every time they patch it someone cuts the hole anew.

Now they started a new tactic; I know of at least one person who got a $400+ fine for “trespassing” by crossing the railroad tracks there. sigh

Alan August 31, 2007 4:15 PM

@tk: They found a different solution for people crossing the tracks in Portland. They just run them over. (Many of the trains are now operated by remote control. Imagine a giant remote control train set operated by the blind.)

Theresa OceanMist August 31, 2007 8:36 PM

Excellent information on your blog, not too much criticism and not too much reality checks. What I enjoyed most of all was the chowder recipe. I can take in distressful information a bit better on a full stomach. Great chowder!

Steve September 1, 2007 1:22 AM

“Will not clear man on side of car” is an old railroad safety notice. I’ve seen it on warehouses that haven’t had rail service in fifty years or more. And I think the lubricant warning was posted after someone got his clothes stained and sued.

Neighborcat September 1, 2007 7:12 AM

I understand the photo is from Boston, so the real question is: Who was arrested as a terrorist for taking the picture?

DigitalCommando September 1, 2007 9:35 AM

A second sign should be placed next to it which reads: Warning: Attempted sexual contact with the fence may cause extreme chafing. When you get home, your wife might smell the fence lubricant and ask ” have you been cheating on me with that fence again?.

William September 1, 2007 12:43 PM


When your idiot friend gets himself run over and strands thousands of innocent commuters, rest assured that nobody will feel the least bit sorry for him.

Safety rules are there for a reason. It takes a very long distance to stop a train. Anybody with an iota of common sense knows to stay off the tracks.

spatulaman September 2, 2007 5:05 PM

Obviously it’s a reference to the “New Hackers Dictionary”, although the example there is wrought iron fence …

f… me harder /excl./

Sometimes uttered in response to egregious misbehavior, esp. in software, and esp. of misbehaviors which seem unfairly persistent (as though designed in by the imp of the perverse). Often theatrically elaborated: “Aiighhh! F…. me with a piledriver and 16 feet of curare-tipped wrought-iron fence and no lubricants!” The phrase is sometimes heard abbreviated `FMH’ in polite company.

Boston Commuter September 3, 2007 11:21 PM

I see this sign every day at my train station in Boston. As some other posters mentioned, the idea is to stop you from crossing the train tracks.

Perhaps it’s because the Acela Express happens to run on these tracks. It’s a good deal faster than most American trains, so you’d have less time to get out of the way if a train were coming.

tk. September 4, 2007 10:45 AM

@William: LOL, this is an Amtrak station. No one with a job that they need to show up to in a timely fashion actually uses it to commute.

Paul September 15, 2007 7:56 AM

I knew an engineer in Massachusetts who ended up doing this with a fence around a quarry. Kids were climbing the fence to get at the quarry, which had been drained, making it extremely dangerous. The lubricant made the fence both more difficult to climb and unpleasant to climb – the nuisance value kept casual trespassers away.

gb September 17, 2007 6:08 PM

Get out of the box people 🙂 … Ever seen a sign that stated that a door or bench was painted lately ? Maybe the surface of that mesh had been treated with some stuff good against corrosion but bad to human skin …

Pablo July 16, 2008 2:01 PM

Reminds me of a wall I saw while traveling through a small town in rural England. It was a large wall maybe 10-12 feet high, out in back of some little shops. The sign on it read: “Warning: Anti-Climbing Paint”.

I can only imagine it was regular paint, but with flecks of metallic shrapnel or shards of broken glass mixed in.

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