WB4IUY's Random Blog

I've been in Amateur Radio since 1974, and still find new and interesting things to do. I like to build, restore, and operate on the air. This is a blog of various info about my Ham Radio operations and activities, projects, and opinions. Visit www.WB4IUY.net for the lowdown at WB4IUY.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Torque Arms & Mount Corrected, 7/20/17

Thanks to the keen eye of David Robbins K1TTT, I now have my torque arm system properly installed and ready for service. Over the last 40+ years, I've climbed a lot of towers, mostly ham stuff with a little commercial work sprinkled in here and there. I've climbed towers with torque bars installed, but never gave them a second look as to how they were installed...as long as everything was solid and secure.

My dad recently gave me a torque arm assembly to install at the top of my Rohn 25 tower. He had it for some years, and never used it, so I was surprised when he pulled it from under a workbench up at the lake house. He handed it to me, and I said "heck yeah!". I had noticed my tower twisting a little in high winds and when the rotator would stop & lock, but no problems over the 23 years it was in service.

I was working on the top section for my tower, in the home workshop, so I  promptly got this thing bolted on and ready to go. It's an older version, and I couldn't find any info for it online. When I uploaded a few pics, it caught the eye of David Robbins K1TTT, who walked me through the proper installation. Here it is in a couple of pics, properly installed. They should already be above the horizontal braces, and the little "hump" in each are should allow clearance for the diagonal cross braces. Now, time to get this up on the tower and start stacking antennas!!





Dave WB4IUY
http://www.WB4IUY.net











Tuesday, July 18, 2017

More tower work, 7/18/17

Well, this is sorta tower work... I decided to get some of the bugs worked out of my top tower section, before hauling it all up to the 100' point. The previous blog described the issues with the thrust bearing, rotator shelf, and mast position. With all of that out of the way, I moved on to a setup and dry run prior to installation...

I installed the rotator and got it in position, slipped the mast into the thrust bearing, set the height of the mast, installed a mechanical stop on the mast so the thrust bearing would support the weight of the antennas (instead of the weight bearing down on the rotator), and installed a new set of torque arms  my dad gave me. I also have a new upper skirt my dad made, to shed the water from the thrust bearing, once installed. Here's a few pics...


Rotator connected to the controller, and a few test runs made to make sure it turns without any binding. All is well, and ready for action!
 

 Rotator alignment completed, with no issues in rotation. I can't wait to get this beast up on the tower!



Mast centered in the thrust bearing. The thrust bearing is now pumped full of fresh grease, and turning smoothly. Dad fabricated a new skirt for a water shed to install here...


 The mast sits about 1" off of the rotator housing, so as to not present any vertical load. 



 Dad gave me a set of torque arms he had stashed away for Rohn 25! Yes! This thing has always twisted when I would start or stop the rotation of the stack, this should solve that problem!


 Torque arms installed and ready for connection to the guy wires!



Can't wait to get this hoisted upon the tower to the top, and get my guy cables connected!!


Dave WB4IUY
http://www.WB4IUY.net











Sunday, July 9, 2017

More Tower Work, July 8 & 9...

Wow, this was a busy "tower work weekend". The temp were in the low 90's with high humidity, so we started early. First thing, I helped a friend take down his 48' Rohn 25 tower, in preparation for a move to his new home. Ken had already removed his antennas and dropped the guy cables (he had a Hazer on it!), so it came down fast. In less than 2 hours, it was laying on the ground and ready to haul away.
 

Before....



After, in under 2 hours!


I returned to my QTH and climbed to the top of the 90' section on my tower, relocating the gin pole from 80' to 90', in preparation for pulling up the next section. I've decided to put the top on it here, and stop the tower at 100'. There will be 15' of mast above that, with a 21' vertical antenna mounted on top of the mast...that'll put the tip top of my stuff at 136'. I'm already on a hilltop, located at 375' ASL, and the nearly identical setup has worked very well for me over the last 24 years. 

 Gin pole moved to 90' and extended to over 100', ready for the next section of tower...





I needed to do a bit of preparation and a few mods to the top section, to remedy problems I've had in the past. I cleaned the grease fitting on the thrust bearing and lubricated it well. It seemed to be dry, but then, it has been in the weather and in operation many years. The pinch bolts in the collar of the thrust bearing needed attention, as one had become loosened and fallen out somewhere along the years, shifting all of the vertical load directly onto the rotator. 

Thrust bearing on the top...new allen screws installed for centering the mast in the bearing...

Mast guide plate, mid-section...


Next, the lower rotator shelf has always been a problem, requiring the rotator to be left slightly loose on the shelf due to an alignment issue. It was pre-drilled when I got it (don't remember where it came from), and I found it was off about 1/4"! Whew... I marked the plate and slotted it with my old manual mill to allow for perfect alignment when it is reinstalled.

 Rotor shelf marked up to determine the error and corrections needed...


 Rotor shelf clamped down on the table of my old manual mill...


Slotting the rotor bolt holes to allow for accurate alignment of rotor, once installed in the tower...

The rotator is an old Alliance HD-73, and has served me well all these years. It's had a rough life, being operated severely overloaded for turning load, as well as having supported a tremendous amount of weight. Rotation, lock to lock, was generally on the order of 80 seconds. It was welded together once by a lightning strike, and I literally broke it loose with a hammer and never removed it for service...about 19 years ago!  Never-the-less, it has performed well. When the storm destroyed the tower back in April of 2016, it was stuck upside down in a tree for about a month, until we could get a crane to get it down. During that time it rained inside of the rotator, which certainly did it no good. I pulled it apart today, cleaned out all of the rust, wire brushed all of the moving parts and all 4 of the bearing races, cleaned and packed all of the 104 individual ball bearings, reassembled it, gave it a good cleaning and a coat of paint. A quick test found it working like new and ready for action. 

I had to use the Dremel tool and a cut-off disk to deepen the slots of the screw heads, so they could be removed from the terminal strip where the rotor cable connects. Lots of rust...


 Loads of rust on the terminal strip...


Corrosion on the bottom of the housing was so bad, it looked as if the bottom of the rotor has been hammered in... I cleaned it off with a wire brush, and it got a heavy coat of paint later... 


Terminal strip cleaned with a small sanding wheel...


New screws installed in the terminal strip...



Rotor, after disassembly, internal cleaning and lubrication, and re-assembly...


I gave it a "road test", a fresh coat of paint, and she's ready for action!


That was all I could do today, and tomorrow is another work day. More work coming soon, the tower top will be headed up to the 100' point in a few days!

Dave WB4IUY
http://www.WB4IUY.net










Thursday, July 6, 2017

Stacking the 90' Section, 7/4/17

The tower work is moving right along, it won't be long before I get the antennas re-installed. I had a little time on the afternoon of July 4th, and decided to get the next section pulled up and installed. I loaded up the tool bucket, and pulled it up to the 80' point with the gin pole. I climbed up to 80', attached the tool bucket to the tower, climbed back down to the to the 70' point, dismounted the gin pole, climbed back up to 80', pulled the gin pole up, and reattached it to the top of the 80' section. Once attached, I pushed the center of the gin pole up 12' (to about 92'), dropped the rope down to the ground, and climbed back down. 

Once on the ground, the 90' tower section was tied to the rope, and hoisted up to about 92' and tied the pull rope off at the base of the tower to hold things in place until i could get back to the top. Back up the tower I went, up to the 80' point, and tied myself off to the tower. The 90' section was pulled around, Debbie loosened the rope at the bottom of the tower, and we lowered the 90' section down and onto the tower. 

The 5/16" & 1/4" bolts were installed in each tower leg, and I called it quits for the evening. Below is a short video Debbie took with her phone while zoomed in, along with some pics she and I took with our phones while doing the work. 


A little video of me climbing up to the top of the 80' section, getting ready to attach the 90' section of tower...


 Heading up the tower, this was at about 55' up...


 You can see the gin pole above me, holding the 90' section...


 Debbie was taking these pics from the drive out front of our home, with her cam zoomed in...


 Heading on up, almost at 70' in this pic...


 Securing my safety belt to the top of the 80' section...

 
 Installing bolts in the legs of the tower section...


 Taking a photo of Debbie...w-a-y down there, on the back deck below me. 


 Looking at an incoming storm on the horizon, about 10 miles away, as seen from about 80' up. 


 Looking up the tower to the top of the 90' section.


 Looking down the tower from my perch at 80'...

 
 Finishing up and heading back down...


 Up to 90' in this photo...a thing of beauty to me :-)


 My tower is pretty well masked from view by all of the trees on our property...


 ...as seen from my back yard...




Dave WB4IUY
http://www.WB4IUY.net
















Monday, June 26, 2017

Tweaking the 80' Section, 6/26/17

I went back up the tower tonight, just before dark. Once I got all of the guy cables adjusted and everything set a few days ago, the 80' section was driving me a little nuts. It was off a couple of degrees, and while I could have pulled it perfect with the next set of guys when the 90' and 100' sections were stacked, I just couldn't let it be. It's now redrilled, adjusted, and as perfect as I can make it. Now, I'm content and ready to stack'm up, I can't wait! Here's a few pics...










Dave WB4IUY
http://www.WB4IUY.net








Saturday, June 24, 2017

WB4IUY Tower Work, 6/24/17



 After working at my "real job" all day, I got a little more tower work in at WB4IUY this afternoon. Wow, it was hot and humid, but my personal body's AC (sweat) was working well :-) . I'm trying to push forward and make myself get this tower finished and back in operation.

I got the 80' section up and bolted on about 2 weeks ago. I've been soaking the turnbuckles on the guy wires in penetrating lube for the last 2 weeks, and they had broken free and were turning easily, despite being installed in 1994! The cables have become stretched over the years, and the storm in 2016 that destroyed the tower probably didn't help. I decided I needed to get the tower wires tweaked and the tower nice and straight, before I go any higher. I installed several weighted ropes on the tower from 70' and 80', to act as plumb-bobs, and allow gravity to provide a visual indicator of "straight". the 40' point of the tower needed to be pulled back NNE, while the 70' guy point needed to be pulled NW and S. Needless to say, it wasn't straight nor vertical.


I started with the guy for the 40' point on the NW leg of the tower. It wasn't grown over too badly, so I pulled the vines and leaves away to begin adjustment. Wow, the NW leg of the tower was very loose, the tower was pulled hard to the SE in the storm.
 

Vines and undergrowth all cleared away, and ready to adjust. The turnbuckle only allowed for about 3" of adjustment, so I decided I needed to loosen the clamps and pull all of the slack out before beginning the adjustment. I weave a cable through all of my turnbuckles, so they can't turn over time and loosen themselves.



I had to rig a mechanism to pull the slack out of the cable... I adjusted the turnbuckle to minimum (most loose), used vise grips to clamp a ratchet strap to the cable, and connected the other end to the turnbuckle. I was able to crank the cable up nice and tight, pull the slack out, and re-install the cable clamps. This allowed for another 3" of adjustment later...


The NE leg of the guy wires go to an elevated guy point. It was originally used by the cell phone industry at a commercial site, I snagged it up when some surplus parts popped up from a decommissioned cell site. I installed the elevated guy point back when I added on to the north side of my home workshop. I loosened the NE turnbuckle of the 40' guy to minimum, rigged my ratchet strap as before, pulled the slack out, and retightened the guy clamps. This is a much larger turnbuckle, and allows for about 5" of additional adjustment later.
 

Looking up the 40' guy cable for the NE leg of the tower. This turnbuckle snugged up nicely, and allowed for lots of tweaking. Time to move on to the 70' guy for the S leg of the tower...it was WAY off...


This is the guys for the S leg of the tower. The bigger turnbuckle (nearest to the camera) is for the 70' guy wire on the S leg. I was able to snug that cable up, and bring the 70' point of the tower vertical . After about an hour of running from point to point, checking the tower, and wiping a lot of sweat, it was finally pulled vertical and very stable.


A shot of the tower after all adjustments.... I need to go back up the tower and redrill the NW leg junction, and tweak it slightly to the NW, maybe about 5 degrees at most. Once that's done, it's time to climb up and start stacking more tower. I'm getting excited, antenna day is coming soon! I can't wait to see that Force 12 6 element HF yagi up there well above the tree line!

Dave WB4IUY
http://www.WB4IUY.net