Tower Maintenance (a vertical expedition)

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NotAMog
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Call Sign: KD6GCO

Tower Maintenance (a vertical expedition)

#1

Post by NotAMog » Sat Nov 13, 2010 7:18 pm

I spent Friday helping my brother, KN6VL, with some much needed tower maintenance. We had been discussing doing this for quite a while and finally came to the conclusion that the best and safest way to go about it would be to rent a boom lift. It was definitely a new experience since neither of us had used one before. Fortunately, the rental company had to deliver it Thursday afternoon even though it was only rented for Friday. It gave us some time to familiarise ourselves with the lift. There was a strong wind all day on Thursday. Operating the lift in the wind was very disconcerting especially for someone like myself who does not like heights. Fortunately, there was no wind on Friday which made it much easier to work at the very top of the antenna stack.

The work for the day started with swapping out the top most 2m/70cm vertical antenna with a tri-band 6m/2m/70cm antenna. It was a little tricky threading the platform up through the elements of the HF antenna and avoiding the horizontally polarised 2m and 70cm antennas. Thank goodness the wind wasn't blowing. In addition to replacing the vertical antenna most of the zip ties needed to be replaced, the thrust bearing needed lubrication, the umbilical cable was off of one of the support arms and needed to be rehung and secured, and the support arms required repainting.

The first hour working on the tower was a little nerve racking getting used to the height and the motion of the platform. Once I built up confidence that the boom wasn't going to tip over at the slightest movement things went much better. By the end of the day I was very confident operating the boom.

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Here is the boom lift.

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Removing the vertical antenna.

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The antenna is removed! I zip tied it to the platform until I was ready to lower the lift.

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Installing the new antenna.

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Many of the original zip ties had broken leaving the antenna cables dangling.

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The zip ties were replaced with new UV stabilised zip ties and then they were covered with rescue tape. This was recommended by a mutual friend who has does exterior antenna installations as part of his work. It will be interesting to see how these hold up to exposure to the high desert sun and high winds.

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The vertical and 70cm cables secured.

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The finished job. The umbilical cables are now properly draped over the cable arms which manage the cables when the tower is raised and lowered. The next time we do maintenance we plan to clean up the lightening arrestors and protect them better from the elements.

Our conclusion was the it was well worth the cost of renting the boom lift and that we won't wait so long next time to work on the tower.
Bruce Berger
KD6GCO
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cruiserlarry
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Re: Tower Maintenance (a vertical expedition)

#2

Post by cruiserlarry » Sat Nov 13, 2010 7:31 pm

Nice job up there on the tower !!

Glad it was you up there, and not me... :o :mrgreen:
Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear really bright, until they start talking

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xtatik
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Call Sign: K6ARW

Re: Tower Maintenance (a vertical expedition)

#3

Post by xtatik » Sat Nov 13, 2010 11:42 pm

Hard, awkward work....but rewarding in the end. I'm in the process of putting up the exact same HF yagi your brother has...at least it appears to be an A3S w/40m add-on kit. For a three element beam, it's a great performer. We're putting it on a new tower at my Dad's place after being restored in my backyard. The older one is coming here to be restored and will eventually end up on a new trailered tower. I'm hoping to have that rig available for next years Field Day.
Glad to hear you got the job done safely!! :D
Randy
K6ARW

kn6vl
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Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2009 7:17 pm
Call Sign: kn6vl

Re: Tower Maintenance (a vertical expedition)

#4

Post by kn6vl » Sun Nov 14, 2010 8:56 am

Hi Randy,

You are correct, my HF antenna is indeed an A3S with a 40 meter add on. I am fortunate to have a large backyard at the end of a row of houses. My power lines terminate on the south side side of my home leaving the north side of my home wide open. Working around power lines was not an issue for installation and maintenance of the tower and we had plenty of room to operate the lift in the backyard. My brother would have been a lot more nervous if he had to listen to the crackle of power lines as he installed the vertical antenna at the top of the stack.

The lift cost me $200 for the day plus an additional $50 for delivery and pick up but it was well worth the cost, using the lift was safer that climbing the tower or lowering the tower itself to the ground. A daily rental of $200 is less that it would have cost if one or both of us had to go to the hospital! :mrgreen:

John
(KN6VL)

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xtatik
Posts: 295
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 7:58 pm
Call Sign: K6ARW

Re: Tower Maintenance (a vertical expedition)

#5

Post by xtatik » Sun Nov 14, 2010 11:35 am

kn6vl wrote:Hi Randy,

You are correct, my HF antenna is indeed an A3S with a 40 meter add on. I am fortunate to have a large backyard at the end of a row of houses. My power lines terminate on the south side side of my home leaving the north side of my home wide open. Working around power lines was not an issue for installation and maintenance of the tower and we had plenty of room to operate the lift in the backyard. My brother would have been a lot more nervous if he had to listen to the crackle of power lines as he installed the vertical antenna at the top of the stack.

The lift cost me $200 for the day plus an additional $50 for delivery and pick up but it was well worth the cost, using the lift was safer that climbing the tower or lowering the tower itself to the ground. A daily rental of $200 is less that it would have cost if one or both of us had to go to the hospital! :mrgreen:

John
(KN6VL)
Hi John
For all that we're dealing with, I'd quickly pay the $250.00. It was intellligently spent money in your case. Unfortunately, in our case, Pops (W6HTW) lives on a terraced slope in La Habra Heights... No chance of getting a lift up to near the placement. It's gonna' be grunt and curse work.
Randy
K6ARW

kn6vl
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2009 7:17 pm
Call Sign: kn6vl

Re: Tower Maintenance (a vertical expedition)

#6

Post by kn6vl » Sun Nov 14, 2010 3:14 pm

Hi Randy,

When it comes to installing amateur radio towers, the challenges are different for everyone. I purchased my tower back in 2000 but due to complications with permits, other delays and finding enough help when I needed it, I didn't actually get the tower project finished until 2003. It was a time consuming, difficult project to complete but it sure was worth the wait to do the job right. Pulling the permits was an "adventure" in itself but in 7 years, I have never had a neighbor or anyone in my immediate vicinity complain about my tower and antennas.

Good luck with your antenna project and most of all, take your time and be safe. According to accounts that I have read, most amateurs are killed or injured as a result of falls and electrocutions.

73,

John
(KN6VL)

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