My WB0W gin pole went back to use Sunday morning, and
performed very well in the takedown of a 68 ft #25
foldover. I am forever indebted to Roger, WQ9E for doing
the topside work above the 40 foot level. Beginning the
weekend with a very strong fear of heights (on my first
test climb a two weekends back, my brain essentially
communicated a resounding NO when I went above 25 feet..)
I can now state that each climb gets easier, and one does
feel more comfortable each time at a given height. I'm
actually looking forward to (slowly) putting the foldover
back up! Using an ONV belt with seat (although the seat
wasn't all that useful) and an extra safety lanyard, so
that I was always attached to the tower by at least one
method even while climbing provided a considerable sense of
Tower bolts came out easily. Perhaps only four out of the
zillion or so involved had any rusty threads. The previous
owner performed annual maintenance, and painted over the
bolt/nut heads each year as needed. It didn't really
affect the ease of gripping the bolts with a wrench or
socket, and I'll be continuing this annual event when the
tower goes back up.
The tower jack proved it's worth. Roger commented that he
had never seen sections separate so easily. These sections
were 12 to 15 years old, and rocking a top section by hand
showed no real movement between sections at the joints.
Using the jack, the top section just slid right up.
However, maneuvering the jack into position was a royal
As shipped the WB0W jack is a standard 2000 lb. hydraulic
scissors jack in a nice carrying case. Two heavy formed
steel plates are provided that slip below and above the
jack, evenly distributing the pressure on the tower
horizontal members at the joint, with lips that fit the #25
members (larger plates are also available for #45/55). The
literature provided suggests bolting the top plate to the
jack, although no bolt is provided. Roger came up with a
Rohn tower bolt that was two inches too long, but fit the
jack threads. Hardware stores were not open Saturday
night when I was getting everything together for the job
and could not find an appropriate bolt!
Two safety chains were attached to the jack, for attachment
to the two plates in predrilled holes. A chain was not
provided to attach the jack itself to the tower, so I
fabricated one. This thing is far too heavy to risk
With the too-long bolt in place, the upper plate had to be
removed each time the jack was positioned. The loose
bottom plate was placed in the lower tower section, the
jack maneuvered on top of that, and then the top plate
placed. There is not a heck of a lot of clearance here,
and wedging everything in was a handful. I will be finding
a method to bolt both plates securely to the top and bottom
of the jack prior to next use.
The major objection to the jack is it's habit of extending
everytime you remove it for lowering to the next section
down. It is necessary to open the valve, manually compress
the jack, close the valve, and hope it stays compressed
while maneuvering it around. I plan to add some sort of
heavy spring that will keep the jack in it's compressed
state. With 2000 lb. of push available, the added load of
the spring isn't going to strain anything. A manual
screw-type scissors jack wouldn't have this problem,
although wouldn't be as convenient to use when popping the
upper section off.
The takedown went well. I was concerned about how to
handle the long boom assembly (about 150 lb. and some 20
feet, including the pipe extension). Rohn installs the
boom in one piece, so the following procedure was used:
The two bolts holding the upper boom attachment point were
removed, and then the six nuts were removed from the bolts
that attach to the primary hinge point attachment plate. A
tag line pulling away from the tower and a little rocking
and prying were used to pull the boom section off of the
bolts holding it to the tower face, and it was easily left
down in one piece with the gin pole. Easily from my
perspective at the hinge, maybe not from the two fellows on
the gin pole rope on the ground!
After seven hours in 95 to 100 degree heat and direct sun,
everything was moved to my QTH 3 miles down the road. It
probably could have proceeded more quickly, but when I took
over the topside chores when Roger had to leave, I
proceeded in a rather slow and deliberate fashion <grin>.
The two fellows serving as the ground crew as well as
myself had sunburned eyelids from all the eyes-up work,
which was quite uncomfortable Sunday evening. A malady
probably unique to this sort of labor.
Observations for the next round.. clipping socket wrenches
with two foot leads and clips to the tower was a good idea,
easier than groping around a tool belt or bag and less
chance of dropping anything. I didn't do the same with the
set of short open end wrenches, however. With all the
heat, fatigue and sweat, getting anything into or out of a
pocket became difficult as the work proceeded, particularly
with the safety belt straps usually sitting right over my
pockets.. Next time, all tools will be on short lines and
clipped to the tower at the work level.
We tied the 5/8 manila gin pole rope to pieces as required.
I am going to permanently attach a large eyelet and braid
the rope back. Any attachments to the gin pole rope will
then be handled by a short length of 1/4 inch steel cable
with large safety caribiner type clips on each end, with
the cable passed through the eyelet. This should save a
lot of untying/tying time, and prevents bad-knot errors.
We tried to remove the Rohn screw-in guy anchors. No way.
They spin fine, but don't move out even with a man on each
end of a 6 foot pipe walking in circles while pulling out.
For those inexperienced in climbing.. once you have the
appropriate safety belt and lanyard, just practice. Find a
ham with an existing tower and spend a while going up and
down, with plenty of rest as required, only going as high
as you feel comfortable while practicing. Learn how to
quickly swing the belt around the tower to attach to the
belt (while attached with the second lanyard, of course)
and to let the safety belt and strap take the load, as the
first impulse is to hang on to everything as tightly as
possible! Don't look down if it bothers you. Don't look
up if the clouds are moving across the sky at any speed..
the impression the brain can then deliver is that the tower
is then falling over at the rate the clouds are moving!
Hopefully my posts aren't too long and overly annoying. If
so, please send a private email, I'll be much more brief in
future messages. I feel that a fairly detailed summary
might help someone who, like myself, is all-new to this
line of work and is gathering as much info as possible on
the reflector before proceeding with what may seem to be
Still sore two days later, but glad the takedown chore is
over - 73! - Mark
Mark Shaum K9TR
Central Illinois Grid EN50
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