2007 Tower Work

Quick Index

Note: This year's blog was put together from 4 separate pieces that at least partially overlap. So not everything is in exactly the right order, and some pieces reference other activities like they were separate.


The tower season started early in 2007.  January saw 2 big ice storms that damaged both of the 40m4LLDD antennas.  In the first storm the top one had one of the element trusses break:

Fortunately this was followed by an unusually nice stretch of weather so we were able to quickly get together a crew and take it off the tower before it was damaged any more.  The crew assembled on a nice sunny January morning.

I had already rigged up the ropes and tram wire, but was hoping to be able to do a temporary repair without removing the antenna from the tower.

With everything disconnected from the tower and the wind starting to pick up I decided to abandon the repair option and just get it off the tower. 

So down it came:

The damaged part:

What it should look like:

What I didn't get pictures of...

The next ice storm a week or so later broke 2 element trusses on the lower beam that was still up on the tower.  The weather had turned back to a normal Peru winter so I called KC1XX to come remove that one, which he did on a day where the high temperature might have been +10f with 20-30 mph winds.  Ironically the one on the ground broke a second truss in the same storm while sitting 5' off the ground on my construction tripods.

I adopted the N1IW modification route which consisted of drilling out the center clamp hole to 1/4" and adding a stainless steel shackle, eye, and 2 cable clamps to make a proper clamp for the phillystran cable.  When removing the old cable for the modification ALL 12 pieces that hadn't broken had cuts in the jackets on the first inside bend.  When talking with the M2 people at the Dayton Hamvention they said they had a new strain relief mechanism but didn't have one there to take a look at.

The modification looks like:

The lower antenna was modified in the snow and put back up the tower at the 70' level for the ARRL DX contest.  I was originally going to put it back at 105' where it had been, but it got caught up in the guy wires on the way up so it ended up just above the 70' guy wires where I was thinking of moving it anyway to make it rotatable on a ring rotor.  The TIC ring was installed later in the spring.  The upper one didn't get raised back up until Friday before WXP CW... when we again had enough ground crew to take a few pictures.

The the picture below shows the rigging for the tram pully. The tram wire in this case was just barely long enough to reach the guy anchor for the tower where the antenna was sitting on the tripods.  So the pulley in the picture below is on the tram wire just above the dead end, the cable to the right is 1/4" aircraft cable going to the come-alongs.  I connect to the boom with the heavy rope in an upside down V arrangement so there is room to sit the boom in the ring rotor cradle without removing the rope.  I also think this helps spread the load on the boom a bit and makes balancing easier.  The rope down to the right from the pulley is a safety line holding the beam down in the tripods until we are ready to have it take off.

Liftoff in this arrangement is done by tightening the come-alongs.  This pulls the tram wire tight and lifts the antenna up to about 20' above the anchor point before we start to pull it up the wire with the jeep.  All hands were busy for this part so sorry, no pictures.  Once it is off the ground and moving up the wire its just a matter of keeping it pointed at the tower.  As you can see below, this was a perfect May morning for this job, not a cloud in the sky and very light winds.  You can see the two tag lines and the white lifting rope below, but the tram wire is hard to see. 

As the antenna goes up the force on the tram wire increases.  We had to stop two or three times to take a few more pulls on the come-along to raise the antenna above the guy wire that it was over.  The only problem this time was that the rigging I had planned to tip the antenna a bit to get the elements above the top guy wire didn't work well enough so I had to go up and give them a bit of help.

Once sitting in the cradle of the rotor it just takes a short time to hook up the boom brace, the 8 bolts for the boom clamps, and level it out.  The star guy bracket makes a nice chair to sit in while connecting things up:

Then all the tram wires and ropes have to be lowered and put away... The ground crew cleaning up:

KB1W gathering up one of the 3 come-alongs (2 in series on the tram wire because one wasn't long enough, and 1 on a backstay).

KJ1K and a neighbor in the shed watching the final connection.  K1MK was behind the camera.

Time for a contest!

Besides putting the two 40m4lldd's back up in the air the biggest project planned for this year is the new 80m 4-square.  It is going to be 4 Rohn-25 towers with insulators 10' off the ground.  The chosen site is behind my pond which will keep it well out of the way of other towers and antennas.  It is unfortunately will need about 800' of feedline to get there.

This is where it began early in the spring.  The latest episode of the Peru Chainsaw Massacre, this time with W1EQO at the saw.  Notice the tangle of branches that make it impossible to walk through there, just ask the Lucky dog about how much fun he was having!  All of that has to be removed before installation of towers can begin.

In between dragging branches out of the firewood I started pre-assembling pieces of the towers.  These are the insulators and their mounting plates.  Since the insulator is porcelain which is of course prone to chipping I am leaving the bubble wrap in place to protect them for now.  The one on the left has the wrap removed for the picture.  The one on the right has the wrap, with 'up' arrow, and also 3 stress relief rods.  The rods are just 1/2" threaded rod bolted through the plate and are meant to keep side stresses off the insulators while standing up the towers.

There was so much firewood to be moved that I just couldn't see hauling it piecemeal across my old wooden bridge.  The bridge was slowly sinking anyway due to erosion under it from the spring thaw.  So I took a week out from moving brush to install a new culvert pipe and make a vehicle worthy bridge.  Now W1EQO can drive right up to the wood to load it up.  The old bridge was rolled over twice to get where it is now, I'll probably drag it over the stream flowing into the pond as a walking bridge.  The buckets I was using to water the gravel to help settle it in quicker.

These are the insulated base sections assembled and waiting for room to be cleared.

A close up of the insulators.  I only got enough rod to brace 2 insulators from the local hardware store.  Since we will likely only stand one up at a time I can just move the rod from tower to tower to put up each one.

The chainsaw massacre continues, temporary piles of firewood grow as I sort out firewood from brush.  The brush gets piled around the perimeter of the area.  This is what it looks like on Field Day weekend, about 3/4's of the trees are down and probably a bit more than half the area has had the brush removed so its almost safe to walk   Right in the middle of the picture is a stake with an orange flag that is the North East vertical location, more or less.

Well, enough massacre for now... time to build something.  Because of how heavy the insulators are, and I want to keep the side loads off them as much as possible I decide to use a crane to put up the first parts of the verticals.  A 30' crane made of Rohn 25g that is.  Pulling up 30' of tower is relatively easy with a few simple tools... start with rope.

Add a few pulleys.  This one is the turnaround one at the guy anchor.  They anchor rods are 1" cold rolled steel 4' long.  The limb under the pulley is to keep it from pulling itself down into the dirt.


Add another stake and rope to hold the bottom end in place.  Note the duct tape over the ends of the legs... I need to use this section for one of the verticals later so don't want it full of dirt.

Add 2 more pulleys on the top of the 3 sections and 2 bipods to walk the section up to a reasonable angle, and away it goes.  A 4:1 mechanical advantage on the rope makes pulling it up past that point easy.  Just tie off the 2 side guys with a little slack and pull on the lifting rope a bit... and up it goes.

From this point the sequence is:

5 or 6 repetitions and its vertical.


Then comes the rearranging of the ropes:

Only enough pulleys and rope to get 2:1 advantage on this lift.  Because its up and over the top of the crane tower there are 2 pulleys up there just to change the direction of the rope.  To get 4:1 would take double the rope and 4 more pulleys, 1 on the load, 1 at the anchor point, and 2 more to feed the rope over the top of the crane.  I think with the added height from the crane there should be enough of an advantage to make this not too hard to lift with a couple people.

By the way, moving the assembled tower sections from where they were put together at the left side of the above picture to where they are now was done using a garden tractor cart and a couple bungee cords... but not the tractor, too many stumps in the way.  Basically just bungee cord one end in the cart, pick up the other end and play like driving a ladder fire truck.


Finally the first of the verticals goes up.

Even the insulator looks better when its vertical.

Tower and Gin Pole ready to top off 2nd vertical.

KB1W and the supervisor.

Tightening up the first guy ropes.

Installing Gin Pole at first guy level to start raising the rest.

And up it comes.

It was a picture perfect day, but not a perfect day for pictures.

Half way done. The 2nd vertical topped off, only 2 more to go.

The view to the east from the bridge.

Staging area. Roll of hardline ready to pull and guy ropes for the last 2 verticals hanging on the cable run just to keep them off the ground.

They are up!  (Sorry about the picture quality, I'll get a better one some morning when they are in the sun instead of backlit.)

The new Lucky DogCam


Connection point for 3 radials. The hardware is 1/2" stainless. It is in the holes that were made for the rods that were used during erection to keep the stress off the insulator. Between each radial is a flat washer that is dipped in noalox type gunk. There is also more gunk under the washers holding the bolt to the plate.

The feed connection. Same 1/2" stainless hardware and washers. The cable ends are soldered on eyes. The feed cable goes up to a carrier rope that is tied to the first rung of the vertical. I figured that was less likely to stress the connections when the rope/cable are coated with ice than if it was below the insulator. It also keeps the feedline higher off the ground.

View from above..

View from above of another feedpoint..

View 'across the pond'... If only this were the 'big pond'!


Well, after 20 years or so of M/M operation it was about time to finish the shack.  I had the windows replaced in the whole house a few years ago, and when I did that I also replaced the old thin paneling with drywall and new paneling.  I had never done the shack though.  So now it was about time.  The drop ceiling was getting ratty from all the cable changes over the years also, and the carpet was starting to fray.

Demolition Day 1... Remove drop ceiling.  This is one time I will break out the dust masks, gloves, and goggles.  I hate this stuff.  Hopefully I can find something that is nicer to work with than this 20 year old rock wool type of panels.  Besides the frayed edges there were 20 years worth of dust and mouse droppings on top of most of them.

Note in the above photo, not only the unsecured wiring that was above the drop ceiling, but also how narrow the opening between the rooms is... that will change shortly.

Now where is that box of wire staples???

Starting to strip the walls.  Note the remove control ShackCam on the corner of the station table.  I finally added the coffee pot circuit to the last open slot in the breaker box.

The first new wall.

The back of the SO2R station table.  This could probably use some cleaning up while I'm at it.

Meahwhile, back at the ranch...

W1EQO has started the latest episode of the Peru Chainsaw Massacre to make room for the new 80m 4-square project... and also to stock up on firewood for next winter.

Well, Phase 1 completed!  Of course I don't really know how many phases there might be for this project.  but half of the room has new walls and has the carpet and drop ceiling removed.  The tables on the left are not all the way back against the wall yet so I can get behind them to sort out wires.  Notice how much wider the opening is between the rooms now.  It makes it feel so much more open between the halves of the room now.

The main wire entrance.

The wire raceway to the other half of the shack.


Where did all the stuff go?  Well, lets just say that I am not open for over night visitors unless they like the couches.

The other bunk room.

Phase 2 done!  I guess.  Thanks to some help from W1TO and W1EQO all the panelling is in place now.  Just a few trim pieces to do and outlet covers to finish up and the walls will be basically done.

Meanwhile, a nice Sunday morning and some help from W1TO got the bottom 40m4LLDD mounted on the new ring rotor.  It turns, but right now there aren't any radios connected to it.  And only 2 weeks before NEQP!!



The saga continues...

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Argh, enough of that.  I hate those commercials.  It is amazing though what you can do with a few slices of ABS drain pipe and some sheetrock screws.  Add a bit of big wire moulding and it should look even better in another week or so.  Almost time for the new drop ceiling and then carpet.

A contest in the middle of all this... Of course!  NEQP, and we had to defend our perfect winning streak in the M/S class.  Envision this... Friday the drop ceiling material arrive and construction begins.  By Saturday afternoon the installation of wire ducts and drop celing transformed the above to this:

And this:

The contest kind of looked like this... through a camera with an almost dead battery:

Monday... Carpet panels arrive and installation begins.  By Wednesday the room is starting to look like this:

And this:

Almost time to start moving back in.

Another day of putting furniture back together, reconnecting cables, and lots of vacuuming, and it looks like a radio shack again... now for some new tables???


The 2007 Picnic was held on a hot August day. Fortunately Peru's cooling breezes kept blowing for most of it and kept it from getting too hot, but plenty of cooling beverages were consumed anyway.

W1EQO and W1AUV deep in discussion over a couple cold ones.  W1BS in background.  Probably W1TO's pants in the middle and an unidentified ear on the right.

Along with plenty of food... I think this was the end of the fresh pie.

W1TO finishes off the pie.

Good use was made of the shade under the tarps over the deck.

Left to right more or less... Tom, N1MM Standing, Pat N1LZH sitting under Tom's chin, Steve N1SR standing in back, Sigurd KJ1K sitting, Mike K1MK standing, Bruce N1YCW sitting, the back of Jim W1EQO's head, Joe W1BS standing, Tom W1AUV sitting, and Gerry W1VE on the right.

K1RX and W1TO presided over a short YCCC meeting to induct new members and pass out door prizes that included some mugs, maps, and books.

Mark K1RX and Tom W1TO.

There was a little bit of operating going on, but it was pretty warm in the shack even with the window fan going.

Chuck W1HIS at 20m station, Tom W1TO standing.

And of course the Lucky Dog took the pack on a tour of the antennas.

Left to right.. Matt W1MAT, Mark K1RX, John WA1ZHM partially hidden in back, Tom W1AUV, Will WC2L(ex NA2NA), Jose N1BAA (ex N4BAA), Eric KV1J, Me, Lucky Dog leading the way... He knows the antenna tour path pretty well by now.

The tour started at the new 80m 4-square site.  Most people kept safely to the shady side of the clearing.

Left to right... Sevi, son of N1BAA, a couple arms I can't identify, Tom W1AUV, John WA1ZHM, Joe W1BS, Frandy N1FJ, Jim W1EQO, Jose N1BAA, Gerry W1VE, Mark  K1RX, Eric KV1J, Matt W1MAT.


Its definately hard to get a good picture of this antenna.

There were a few shady spots to view the rest of the antennas.

I'm not going to try to identify all the backsides.

This is pretty much the same group as above... Left to right.. N1SR, W1MAT, KV1J, W1VE, W1AUV?, W1EQO, K1RX, W1BS, N1FJ, WC2L, N1BAA, Sevi, WA1ZHM.

The Lucky Dog lets the tour narrator do his thing while everyone else stands in the sun.  He was nice and cool from a dip in the pond.

Left to right... Lucky Dog, Me, and an unidentified stomache.