At Long Last, Love

It was right out of Henry James, all right. The weekend, that is. Up in State College, PA. Working with W2GD, doing some needed maintenance items at the K3CR (Penn State) station.

Our assignment was to “fix” the lower & middle 15M stack Yagis, then move over & install the re-purposed TIC Ring (which failed to successfully hold the OWA 40M Yagi earlier this season) on the middle 20M stack Yagi. Plans fell apart when the new TIC did not have the correct mounting hardware. Then we noticed the top 10M Yagi was free-wheeling. So that was added to the work list. All to be done in two days, Saturday & Sunday.

The first climb got us to the lower 15M Yagi, & in short order we had that secured, tilted over & twisted around, allowing access to the originally-installed RadioWorks balun & feedpoint. The balun was full of water; the coax was also showing signs of water damage. No wonder Alex (LZ4AX, the principal operator there) was suffering on 15M. New Balun Design baluns were put in place, along with new runs of 9913F.
The middle antenna was a tad more troublesome, being mounted on a TIC RIng, but we managed to get that one done, with all cables secured to the tower & weather-proofed. Everything tested fine. So it was on to the 40M/10M tower. Everyone was apprehensive, as we’d installed a new Yaesu 2800 rotator on our last trip. The big question was WHY the beam was turning in the wind. While we prepared ourselves for almost every eventuality, it turned out to be a simple case of the mast clamp bolts not being tight enough.
I’ve experienced this before–where the mast (chrome-moly) is so much stronger than the simple cast metal of the Yaesu clamp, and without a second thrust bearing above it, will move enough in the wind to flex the clamp joint, loosening the bolts. Not a lot. Not enough to fall out, but enough so that the mast can then move or turn. And chrome-moly remains “slippery” in terms of clamps not being able to hold, regardless of design. Of course, Yaesu cautions you against over-tightening them, suggesting you drill & install a pinning bolt, but none of us wanted to do that. Plus drilling chrome-moly is a two drill bit affair–something not undertaken lightly. I tightened everything down, waited 15 minutes, and re-tightened ever so slightly more. GD was unable to move the beam when he tried, so we’re hoping for the best.

I climbed down & unpacked WA3FET’s new chainsaw. Jim wanted me to give he & Alex some brief pointers, which I did, clearing 10-12 small trees & brush growth around their old crankup tower. It’s a nice new Poulon 18-inch saw, which should provide years of service at the station.

Headed South about 6PM, having decided it would be more fun or wiser to be home Monday morning than driving all day long (it’s basically an 8 hour trip). I almost re-thought it when I discovered that the Super 8 motel statf was gone & I could not retrieve my cell phone, which I’d stupidly left on the bed. They agreed to over-night it to me, so back South I went. About 9PM, down on I-70, the familiar wobble & soft weave of the Dakot’s rearend brought me fully awake–telltale signs of a flat tire. I finally became one of those poor souls stuck alongside the road, changing a tire, in the dark, two feet from the oncoming traffic. With the flashing red light from the hazards, the ever-changing light levels from traffic, it took me 46 minutes to change the tire. It’s amazing how darkness slows one down. Of course, it started sprinkling right at the end, too, seemingly an apt epitaph to the weekend.

I finally gave up somewhere around Galax, stopped & rested my head on the steering wheel, napping for two hours. Despite watching my Father do shit like this as a truck-driver for over 30 years, meaning I should know better, I sometimes attempt such dumb stunts, like working all day & then expecting to drive all night home. Of course, I forget that my Dad was 20 years younger than I am now when he was doing these dumb things. But I digress…managed to get home & struggle my way to bed by a little after 5AM.
Slept until 10AM. Am still dog-tired tonight while typing this. Next up, some local NC jobs, then a trip to MD/VA to do some repair work before CQ WW. Then the contest itself from W3LPL’s, as usual.

stay tuned…

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