When old friend Gary Dixon, K4MQG, called, I knew we were in for some serious work. Gary has an old FAA tower, modified to accept ham hardware. Up top, he has two big Yagis–a Create 2L 80M beam & a old Cushcraft 402-CD, with the beef-up mods installed. Both have not worked for five or so years. The ideas was to take them down. The 80M would up for sale, & the 402-CD would be repaired & put back up. It has been 12 years since either beam had been taken down. Image to the right gives some idea of what we were faced with coming to ground.
Well, once atop the tower, it was pretty obvious we were in trouble. The tree growth has been substantial. I told Gary we’d run into problems. But he was hell bent on getting them down, since we were there, the beams were not working, etc. So, away we went, to paraphrase Mr Gleason.
There was literally no way to back guy the alum mast (his idea of using utility pole would not work, it was easily 30-40 degrees off angle); the tree canopy prevented getting a line to ground in proper direction. So I was using rope & not as much tension on the tram line as I would have liked. The little stingers on the 80M element tips immediately got caught on the top guy set. That took an hour of juggling time–carefully cranking up tram tension, shaking the shit outta the guy cable, plus jiggling the tram line itself, so things would “separate” & then immediately I could lower the beam….
Then it got caught several times in branches on the way to ground. Took almost three hours to get the 80M beam on ground.
Then we had to remove the prop pitch to lower the mast. I mistakenly thought this would be somewhat easy, despite the weight. But his prop pitch is an original W0MLY setup, which uses a cover totally surrounding the motor. It’s got its own thrust bearing, etc. When new it might have had 1/8-inch of clearance between shelving plates. After many years, the electrical plug/jacks for the control cable had rusted closed. NO amount of Blaster, robo- grips or anything else would turn them. So, desperate for a solution I simply twisted the rusted out base plate out of the housing. Gary wasn’t happy w/that but otherwise
we’d still be aloft fighting the thing. After that, it was just the old in/out using the Lug-All to lower the mast/beam.
I thought the 402-CD would go to ground more easily, being half the size, but it also got caught on the top guy on one side. The Driven Element side was wayyyyyy heavier for some reason. Then had to re-rig because Gary had installed a truss support post (good idea, but
not perfectly executed) EXACTLY in the middle of the boom. This pushed against the tram line (either way I rigged it) & caused the beam to “skew” one side or the other, such that one side would again hit the top guy. Finally pulled it back to me at tower top & hung a tag line on one side. Went right to ground, snagging in branches but we were able to pull it through okay.
Amazingly, nothing was damaged on either Yagi.
One tip on the 80M got bent a bit after it was on ground.
Simple work but shit happens. Seven hours aloft.
But the bottom line is, I don’t think Joe Ham could have done such work–solved all the problems, issues, etc. Of course a crane would have solved some of this, but then again, once the pick was made, the same problems would have arisen getting stuff on the ground.