Awkward in Aiken

Headed down to Aiken, SC, to the home of N2ZZ, who suffered an interesting (to me, anyway) fatality last year, when his 70-ft, unguyed Rohn 25G tower came over. Not much of a surprise there, but it stood the test of time for almost 20 years! Testimony to Rohn’s built-in strength in design, that’s for sure. You have to wonder about the guy who climbed up there & hung a TH-7 & various VHF stuff, though, leastwise, I do. Pretty big cojones IMHO…or pretty stupid…

Anyhow, the story gets more complicated, since Jim’s backyard is a veritable garden, with exotic plants, shrubs, trees, walkways, & a pool. I spent several hours wandering around with my trusty tower layout tools, trying to figure a method of fitting a real guyed tower in to the available space. Finally, in a fit of
inspired desperation, I decided to violate the rulebooks (my own as well as Rohn’s). I would put the tower in, but it would be short-guyed, & the angle on one guy anchor would not be a true 120-degrees. To make this bastardized plan work successfully, I elected to go with 55G tower, counting on its higher strength to compensate. New antennas included a SteppIR, along with 6/2M beams, & a 2M vertical.

Once the base & anchors were in, it was time to install the tower. Thus, we found ourselves in Aiken, along with the pre-painted-black tower sections. Indeed, everything was to be painted with flat black or “camo” color to help hide everything amidst the vegetation. Jim’s home is in an historic part of town, & while he’d had the previous tower for all those years, the idea was not to call attention to this new, larger version, although it was only going to be 60-ft tall.

Right away, I ran into trouble. The used sections would NOT mate, despite twists & turns & trying to coax them together. Luckily, there are options–careful but tediously slow man-handling aloft while tugging & pulling with the comealong & ratchet straps. It took all day to assemble the damn tower. Then there was painting the antennas, touching up the tower sections, installing the grounding, installing the newly built Hoffman box (which holds the PolyPhasers), et cetera. All in all, a good start. And the tower really isn’t visible from the street (flat black paint works wonders).

It was surely slower than anticipated, however, & made for a few awkward moments atop the tower, fighting to get those section mated. This afternoon, off to Stillwater, OK,where W2GD & I will be working at rebuilding K5KC’s station–all new Yagis going up to replace the storm-damaged OptiBeams.

stay tuned….

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